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RMOW looks at banning cigarettes on patios, parks

Vancouver has adopted a bylaw that decreases exposure to second-hand smoke

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Patios throughout Whistler Village may soon be free of cigarette smoke, thanks to a drafted bylaw that is currently circulating throughout municipal hall.

The so-called smoke-free bylaw prohibits smoking on patios, at parks and playing fields, as well as within six metres of all doors, windows, air intakes and customer service areas.

Paul Martiquet, medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, presented the bylaw to council on Monday.

Martiquet said that the City of Vancouver already passed similar legislation this year, and he urged councillors to do the same for Whistler.

“This is an outdoor recreation capital, and we know that smoking on patios affects the patrons that are also on the patios,” said Martiquet.

“I am asking you to go further than Vancouver. I am also going to ask that playing fields and parks be smoke-free in Whistler. And six meters from patios here in Whistler be smoke-free.”

In response to the proposal, Councillor Tim Wake said: “I fully support this. I think it is great. I think Whistler could really take the lead.”

“Even the cafés in Paris, France are outlawing smoking. If even the French can’t smoke, why should we be smoking here?”

The proposed smoke-free bylaw would be an addition to the provincial-wide smoking ban that is already coming into affect Mar. 31. This legislation bans smoking from public places, work places and three metres from all entranceways, as well as severely limits the advertisement and sale of tobacco products.

Mayor Ken Melamed said before adopting the smoke free bylaw, the municipality would need to analyze how such a bylaw would be enforced.

“In the past, enforcement has been a concern and an obstacle for council in taking bylaw direction. Not in every case, but it has been a concern,” said Melamed.

“It is something that is regularly considered, but sometimes we adopt bylaws that we know we are going to have a hard time enforcing. And sometimes we don’t.”

Melamed added that past councils have debated and were very close to passing bylaws similar to what the province is now enacting.

“I think there has been positive support in the resort for leadership direction in healthy lifestyle. And this is quite consistent with that direction… I think council is ready to move in that direction.”

Martiquet’s presentation to council was well-timed, with Canada’s national non smoking week running from Jan. 20-28 this year.

According to Jacki Bissillion, unit president for the Canadian Cancer Society, tobacco remains the single most preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, and accounts for 30 per cent of all cancer deaths.

Bissillion went on to say that studies have shown that smoking bylaws have no adverse effects on businesses.

“The positive impacts greatly outweigh any negative impacts,” she said.

However, Joey Gibbons, owner of four bars in Whistler, said the impacts of such a bylaw should be discussed with local restaurants and bars before it is implemented.

“I don’t smoke, and I realize how bad smoking is. But in the pub business, it is the norm to sell cigarettes because there is a large population that smokes, and it is legal,” said Gibbons.

“I get worried a little bit when the government gets involved with these things. When that guy from Germany comes to order of packet, he isn’t going to think ‘Oh, the government’, he thinks ‘What are these people doing sending me out in the cold six metres from my patio, hiding behind the tree, smoking like I am a third rate citizen?’”

Gibbons added that the market should decide whether smoke should be allowed on patios.

“If you’ve got smoking on the patio, other people are going to see there are smokers on the patio, and they may get offended to the point where nobody is on your patio anymore,” said Gibbons.

“We all get that (if we) ban smoking we are all going to have a safer, better place. But we are also inviting the world to come to our resort. And to send people out into the cold to have a cigarette… I think we just have to think about it a bit.”

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