THE BLOG

May We Offer You a Crack Pipe Instead?

01/04/2012 05:00 EST | Updated 03/05/2012 05:12 EST

You've seen them everywhere. Outside in the cold. They move quickly to avoid the harshness of the weather. They're not homeless, but they're treated as such. You hear the flick of a lighter, the quick puff, and then like the spark from a lighter, they are gone, cursing the cold and the stinging pain in his fingers.

Who are these people? Lawyers, shop clerks, and janitors; the everyday people. They are law-abiding and they pay their taxes; they might have kids and they might even go to church/synagogue/mosque once a week. They're all very different, but there's one thing that unites them all: an addiction to nicotine. And it is because of this addiction that they are punished. The addiction they have is unpleasant for those who are not smokers. Because of this, they are shunned. They are shunned from any heating and warmth, and forced to endure the cold Canadian winter. But that's their choice. Or, is it?

The lack of Canadian sympathy to the plight of smokers isn't unusual, nor is it something to rally around. But what is unforgivable is the complete double standard Canadians inflict on their fellow law-abiding citizens and their less law-abiding counterparts.

Health Canada has banned the use of e-cigarettes. Or rather, e-cigarettes "have not been granted market authorization in Canada" -- since 2009. I can't help but wonder why.

E-cigarettes were invented in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik. E-cigarettes contain a heating device which uses two common food additives (in a liquid form) into a water vapor which simulate the act of smoking, as well as delivering a nicotine fix to the body.

Not only are e-cigarettes less toxic and poisonous, they are a safe alternative to those who wish to kill the dreadful habit (including this blogger). This technology has the potential to save millions of lives, and break millions of addictions -- in addition to reducing the frostbite rates I'm sure, and increasing employee productivity (fewer smoke breaks).

But yet, Health Canada remains firm on its in-limbo policy.

Now compare this to the maddening decision of behalf of the Vancouver's Coastal Health Authority -- which has begun to give out free crack pipes. So, as a law-breaking citizen who is taking a drug which not only causes harm to one's self, but to one's community as well, the government has decided to help you out.

No longer will crackheads have to stand outside and brave the elements! They have a cozy home in Vancouver, complete with free crack pipes. But wait, it gets better: The VCHA has decided to give crackheads access to entire crack kits, complete with mouthpieces, filters, alcohol swabs, and screens! According to Trudi Beutel, a spokesperson for the health authority, this will prevent diseases and stop the clogging of emergency rooms. Ask anyone besides Beutel and they'll say it will also help crackheads save their money so they can buy more crack.

I can't help but wonder why then Health Canada is punishing its law-abiding tobacco smoking citizens, and endorsing government supported crack dens in Vancouver.

Looks like this winter, I should switch one addiction for the other. At least then, I can smoke inside.