The Kootenay Smoke Free Coalition made a presentation to Castlegar City Council Monday evening. The group represents 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.
Interior Health has a smoking rate of 19 per cent, which is higher than the provincial average of 14 per cent.
The presentation included highlights of the negative impacts of smoking on the health and well being of the community, environment and economy. A strong reminder of the fact that there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke was also given.
With the extremely dry conditions currently in our area, the group emphasized the environmental impacts of smoking related forest fires.
In 2012, there were a total of 430 fires that were caused by smokers materials in public buildings, parks or outdoor areas in BC.
The group proposes that a bylaw be passed that would prohibit smoking on municipal property including parks, playgrounds, beaches, marinas, trails and recreational facilities. Also included would be bar and restaurant patios, hospitals and outdoor events (parades, fairs, markets, concerts, spectator events, etc.).
The proposal also calls for a buffer zone of at least seven metres from doorways, operable windows and air intakes, transit shelters and stops and bar and restaurant patios.
One of the purposes of the Kootenay Smoke Free Coalition is to aid municipalities and business owners in the education and implementation of smoke free bylaws. Over 40 BC communities have already passed similar bylaws.
Several city councilors expressed interest in pursuing the recommendations and requested that more details and information be given to the city’s CAO John Malcolm.