It is a fight that Ken Kyle did not expect to lead.
However, going up against tobacco companies is a challenge he has faced for the last 28 years.
“It’s a horrible thing for people to die from lung cancer from tobacco,” he said. “It’s excruciatingly painful.”
Kyle worked for the Canadian Cancer Society for 15 years, and he’s now a member of the Lethbridge Tobacco Reduction Coalition. He says the Alberta government’s new law banning smoking in vehicles with minors is a huge step forward.
“There’s not a lot of freedom in a family where parents, or others, are dying from the effects of smoking cigarettes,” he said. “We are actually increasing personal freedom by encouraging less exposure to kids.”
According to the Canadian cancer society, nearly one quarter of cancer deaths are tobacco related. In the mid ’60s, Canada had one of the highest smoking rates in the world, but due to federal and provincial bans it now has one of the lowest.
Health Minister Stephen Mandel said it was a decision the government wanted to push through quickly.
“I personally think one of the most important parts of this legislation is smoking in cars with kids,” he said. “I think it’s really a significant step and wildly important.”
Kyle explained children are the unrecognized victims of tobacco smoke, and this law will help protect them. “Children’s bodies are much more susceptible to the toxins and the dangers of tobacco smoke, so it makes complete sense it’s just outlawed,” he added.