Canadian Cancer Society encourages B.C. municipalities to readdress smoke-free bylaw

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is advocating for the province to expand the scope of the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act.

In February 2017, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) addressed municipal leaders across B.C., inviting all to endorse the Society’s recommendation that the province expand the scope of the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act to include bar and restaurant patios, playgrounds, parks and beaches as smoke-free areas, with ministry guidelines legislated for post-secondary campuses.

This new proposal is called the Smoke and Vape-free Outdoor Public Places.

Their request went on to state that more than 71 municipalities have committed to outdoor smoke-free bylaws. One of these was Elkford, and council heard this recommendation during a regular council meeting on March 13.

“Endorsing the recommendation will provide the following benefits: You would be helping protect nearly one million British Columbians, many in rural and remote areas, who live in communities without outdoor tobacco bylaws. Secondly, universal provincial policy and broad awareness measures would make B.C. residents and tourists more aware of smoking restrictions, thereby increasing compliance. Thirdly, provincial policy would help change social norms about tobacco use, reduce youth uptake and contribute to reducing B.C’s $2 billion annual economic burden that is attributed to tobacco,” said CCS health promotion coordinator and tobacco lead for B.C. and Yukon, Megan Klitch, in a release by the Canadian Cancer Society.

CCS also encourages municipalities to develop their own tobacco bylaws that aim at protecting the residents from second-hand smoke.

The reason for this is that 85.7 per cent of British Columbians do not smoke. Out of the minority who do smoke, two-thirds want to quit and are looking for tools to help them.

“Smelling smoke or seeing people smoking outdoors makes it hard for people who are trying to quit smoking and may trigger relapse,” according to the CCS.

The recommended bylaw would prohibit smoking and vaping on restaurant and bar patios, on city-managed properties, including parks, playgrounds, trails, plazas, beaches, playing fields, recreation facilities, and venues, and establish a 7.5 metre buffer zone (best practice is 9 metres) for the above mentioned, as well as around the doors, windows and air intakes of public buildings, read a report by the CCS.

The definition of smoking included burning a cigarette or cigar, or burning any substance using a pipe, hookah pipe, lighted smoking device or electronic smoking device, with some exemptions for the ceremonial use of tobacco in relation to tradition Aboriginal cultural activities.

To date, 28 municipalities have endorsed this recommendation by the society.

The district of Elkford received this invitation to endorse recommendations for provincial action on outdoor smoke-free places. Members of council heard this recommendation during a regular council meeting on March 13.

Several matters were addressed before discussion took place.

Council members brought up that supporting the recommendation and the new provincial policy may have consequences to Elkford’s rental facilities.

Currently the district sets up smoking areas, away from the front entrance, for events such as Christmas parties, weddings, meetings, etc.

Elkford Bylaw No. 599, set in 1999, regulates where people smoke in the Elkford community. This bylaw was deemed out of date during the council meeting. Updating the bylaw, “May provide an opportunity to add regulations on vape smoking and outdoor areas,” read the council meeting report.

Further decisions will be made in an upcoming council meeting.