LETTER: Accessibility is a human proper | Regional-Views | Opinion

It’s time to build a world where anyone can go anywhere. – Rick Hansen

It is more important than ever for companies to protect the health and safety of employees, customers and society. Make your business accessible and welcoming to everyone. The PEI Act on Smoke-Free Places prohibits smoking and vaping in workplaces and public places without a designated outdoor smoking area. Signage is required. Remove cigarette butt containers where smoking is prohibited. Protect employees and customers from second-hand smoke that penetrates at entrances and drive-through windows and waits in setups, parking lots, on restaurant terraces and outdoor events. Canadian courts have ruled that employers and service providers must enforce smoking guidelines for compliance and cannot rely on complaints.

Secondhand smoke is one of the most preventable causes of chronic illness and premature death among non-smokers (85 percent of islanders). Smoking, vaping, and exposure to secondhand smoke are risk factors for more severe COVID-19 symptoms and also affect health conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and compromised immune systems. People at high risk of the virus and survivors of COVID-19 with lung damage must avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

Accessibility is a human right. Employers and service providers need to ensure that workplaces and services are fully accessible by removing barriers for people with disabilities that are not always visible or obvious. Used smoke is a barrier to safe access for many endangered islanders. The PEI Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination against islanders and visitors with a disability (including a past or existing illness affected by secondhand smoke) who seek access to services and facilities available to the public and a campsite or rent an apartment. This law is believed to take precedence over all other laws of this province, and these laws are deemed to be subject to the law.

Under Canadian law, there is no right to smoke and harm the health of others. Children have the right to be raised in a smoke-free environment. Easier access to smoking cessation programs will benefit smokers trying to quit. Smoke-free public spaces protect health and reduce the risk of fire from thrown cigarette butts.

Pam Hall,

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