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Globe editorial

Alone at the wheel Add to ...

Ontario should butt out of its truck drivers' business.

Fining a trucker $305 last week for smoking a cigarette while driving because his vehicle is his legal workplace was an absurd over-adherence to the letter of a law that cannot be enforced equitably.

The Smoke Free Ontario Act, which prohibits smoking in enclosed workplaces, restaurants, bars, etc. has been a resounding success. Applied to unconventional work spaces, however, the law has nearly as many holes as a cigarette filter.

Companies doing cross-border business are federally regulated and can designate some trucks as smoke-friendly, leaving Ontario-only firms as the law's lone targets. And liability for a driver who owns the truck and is its sole operator is hazy.

What about those who work at home? If police find someone running a business from a sofa, enjoying a good puff, will they have the gall to write up a ticket?

Only a few truck and taxi drivers have been fined since the law took effect in 2006, so this isn't a revenue generator for the province (unlike cigarettes). And with many pledging to fight any such fine, taxpayers will shoulder the costs of their days in court.

So why enforce this? OPP spokeswoman Shawna Coulter's first defence - it's the law, and the OPP enforces the law - is reasonable, but she didn't stop there. Smoking is an unsafe distraction to drivers, she said, undermining her own logic. Smoking while driving isn't illegal - while a trucker could be ticketed even for smoking in a stationary truck.

Even the police seem to be craving a non-existent common-sense explanation. They should expect a little healthy public scorn.

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