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Butt out in public
Council is considering instituting a bylaw making the city outdoors smoke-free after representatives of the Canadian Cancer Society spoke at Monday’s meeting to explain the benefits the action would bring to the community.
The presentation included a section on enforcement, one of the often-used arguments against voting in a non-smoking bylaw. Many bylaws are complaint-driven, and a non-smoking bylaw would likely be as well. However, the limit of time to catch someone smoking is fairly small, and there are a limited number of resources.
The report said enforcement is not burdensome, that most smokers comply and the bylaw is supported by residents, both smokers and non-smokers alike.
Bylaw officers may need to step in when dealing with a chronic repeat offender.
Mayor Shari Green confirmed that is a concern she’s heard repeatedly.
“How do you enforce that? It certainly can be done with chronic repeat offenders,” she said.
Green was informed research shows overwhelming support for the bylaw, included by those who smoke. A list of communities that have a non-smoking in public areas bylaw show they are all in the south.
“There are no northern communities on this list,’’ Kerensa Medhurst from the cancer society said. “We really hope after this presentation Prince George will be a leader for the north.”
Coun. Dave Wilbur added his support for the move.
“Smoking around children impacts their health and is showing them something to mimic as they grow up,” he said.
“It’s amazing 6,000 British Columbians die each year because of tobacco,” Coun. Albert Koehler said. “That’s a $2.5 billion cost to the economy. It’s a no-brainer to me.”
Coun. Cameron Stolz asked if the Canadian Cancer Society would be participating in the educational piece that goes with the bylaw.
They will, he was told, and would be open to supporting some of the cost for signage.
Coun. Brian Skakun wondered how the bylaw would be received by establishment owners who’d installed a patio or outdoors area just for the convenience of smokers.
He was told if there was an issue and education needed to happen, the bylaw could be phased in.
“I believe as a former smoker the education process works,” Coun. Frank Everitt said.
Coun. Murry Krause moved that staff bring back a report to council with a report on a non-smoking in public areas bylaw.
He was supported unanimously.