Salmo could be the next municipality to consider no smoking and no vaping in outdoor spaces like parks – the village is the next community on the Kootenay Smoke Free Coalition’s to-do list.
The group is addressing community leaders at July 12 council, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society, The BC Lung Association, Interior Health, BC Cancer Agency, Heart & Stroke Foundation and Quitnow.ca.
The coalition has been making presentations to municipal councils throughout the Kootenays regarding smoke free outdoor spaces with the hope that those councils will adopt bylaws that prohibit smoking in public areas.
Salmo currently has no such bylaw in place, neither does Warfield, Montrose, Trail or Rossland.
Both cities have the matter on their radar, but nothing has advanced to a bylaw stage at this point.
Trail council had a lengthy “butting out” conversation during a March governance meeting, after Coun. Lisa Pasin brought the initiative forward.
“Smoking is a choice just as much as not smoking is a choice,” she says. “There is scientific data to show that the health complications of smoking are extensive and serious. This issue is not a fad or one to be taken lightly, the scientific evidence of health risks associated with smoking and second hand smoke exposure is well documented,” Pasin added. “Our citizens should be able to visit public places and spaces and not be exposed to second hand smoke health risks, due to someone else’s life choices.
“Amending the smoking bylaw will be one step forward in making the City of Trail a healthier community to live in.”
The initiative has stalled with so many big projects presently underway in Trail, but the matter does remain on council’s list for review.
“We haven’t made much progress on this as of yet,” explained Corporate Administrator, Michelle McIsaac. “It’s been such a busy time that we haven’t yet had time to meet. While we may try to get in a meeting over the summer, it will depend on schedules so I expect we won’t have anything to report until September.”
Likewise in Rossland, says Bryan Teasdale, Rossland’s chief administrative officer.
“This is on our list of things for review – but as of this date, we have not completed any further work than (council’s consideration in March).”
The only local outdoor venues where a smoking ban exists are in Fruitvale. Since 2011 under its parks regulation bylaw, the village has prohibited the smoking of cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos or any other form of tobacco and combustible material. Additionally, the bylaw prohibits the making, throwing or placing on the ground, any lighted match, cigar, cigarette or other burning substance.
So far almost 70 communities across the province have joined the push to prohibit lighting up or vaping in outdoor spaces – Castlegar recently became number 68.
Those who violate the bylaw could be subject to a penalty of not more than $100.
With the new bylaw, Castlegar citizens will be able to enjoy tennis courts, playgrounds, walkways, paths, trails and public parks such as Millennium Park and Zuckerberg Island free from smoke and vape exposure, says the coalition.
“This is a positive step for community health,” Trish Hill, Tobacco Reduction Coordinator, Interior Health said in a news release by the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon. “It is encouraging to note that with this bylaw, Castlegar joins 18 other communities in the Interior Health Region with similar smoke free measures.”
Tighter regulations than what’s mandated under the BC Tobacco Control Act (smoking prohibited within three metres of a building) protects people in a number of ways, according to the coalition.
Outdoor smoking bylaws provide positive role modelling for children and youth, support those who want to quite smoking and protect all people from second-hand smoke and vapour exposure.
“Since most smokers start before the age of 18, it is important to model healthy behaviours,” stated Jerilynn Maki, the society’s Health Promotion Coordinator in the release. “We know that if children and youth are not exposed to smoking, they will be less likely to view the behaviour as normal, and thereby are less likely to start smoking themselves. We also know that smokers are looking for tools to quit smoking and tend to respond to no smoking bylaws by cutting back or quitting.”
There is no safe level of second-hand smoke. Each year, tobacco use kills over 6,000 British Columbians, including up to 110 non-smokers who die from diseases brought on by second-hand smoke. Children experience the greatest impacts from second-hand smoke due to their developing immune and respiratory systems.