Prince Albert’s new public smoking bylaw continues to light up a vocal opposition.
Last week, the city ushered through a number of new rules to restrict smoking and vaping, be it tobacco or eventually cannabis, including a nine-metre buffer zone from outdoor spectator areas, playgrounds, public facilities and other recreational sites. Cook Municipal Golf Course was exempt.
At the time, lawmakers faced pushback from within their own ranks, anti-smoking advocates, like the Canadian Cancer Society, and local families who spoke in favour of an outright ban over the buffer.
Now, the city is being criticized by the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC), who said the city is “wrong” to include vaping in its public smoking restrictions. The group represents consumers in over 100 countries and monitors regulatory trends across the globe.
“It doesn't make any sense to treat vaping like smoking, especially given the evidence that vaping is an effective harm reduction tool for those who are trying to quit,” David Clement, the Toronto based North American Affairs Manager of the CCC wrote in a media release.
He added how treating vaping like smoking targets those “trying to make healthier choices,” and how bylaws like this “undermine efforts to move people away from cigarettes.”
“Prince Albert's high smoking rate is exactly why vaping shouldn't be treated like smoking,” he wrote. “Numerous public health agencies around the world have explained that smokers should be encouraged to make the switch.”
Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick voted in favour of the Smoking in Public Places bylaw and sits on the Community Services Advisory (CSA) Committee. The CSA is made up of local residents, which suggested including vaping in the restriction, which Ogrodnick said was based on feedback received from outside agencies, like the cancer society and lung association.
“They said that any substance that is burned, the vapour, the smoke, etc., has the potential to be dangerous,” he said. “We felt that any second-hand smoke has the potential to be dangerous and therefore we don’t want to expose it to children and our citizens of Prince Albert.”
Ask if he anticipated any lawmakers bringing forward amendments in the wake of the criticism, Ogrodnick said, “immediately, no.”
“We passed it and it has made our community healthier,” he added.
Further, the councillor reiterated how an outright ban would only push the problem off of public property and somewhere else. Though he maintains the city may eventually get to that point, he said, based on feedback, it would be difficult to implement right away and was not favoured. He also wished more people would have attended the public meetings and hearings to voice concerns or give suggestions.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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