The whole world will celebrate World No Tobacco Day on May 31. Here in British Columbia, we have something exciting of our own to celebrate. The Capital Regional District recently joined other jurisdictions on Vancouver Island, throughout British Columbia and across Canada in expanding the ban on tobacco smoking.The new Clean Air Bylaw increases the number of smoke free public outdoor spaces, including public parks, playgrounds and squares.
How the Clean Air Bylaw is Taking Hold
As part of an education and awareness campaign promoting the bylaw, I recently made a trip over to one of the regions’ beautiful Gulf Islands. The bylaw changes were received with mixed responses, some people greatly in support and others not.
Here is some of the feedback I heard from both sides:
- Fantastic, I don’t want my children thinking smoking is normal and wanting to experiment.
- Where I smoke should not be regulated.
- Requiring signage is visual pollution to buildings.
- Places where children are playing should be smoke free.
- I hope the buffer zone helps reduce the smell of smoke in my office building.
The current rate of non-smokers in the Capital Regional District is about 89%. This is among the highest rates of non-smoking in Canada! Overall, throughout the region, there has been great support for the expansion of the bylaw. In particular residents are in support of creating more smoke free outdoor areas, like playgrounds, for children to enjoy.
But, just as it took time for our culture to adjust to not smoking indoors, it will take time to adjust to not smoking everywhere outdoors as well.
Why Clean Air is a Win
Clean air bylaws are not put into place to make smokers feel marginalized or targeted. It is well documented that most smokers start before the age of 18. Bylaws such as this have been shown to assist young people to never start smoking in the first place and aid current smokers in cutting back.
Providing smoke free public spaces helps:
- Young children and youth challenge the notion that smoking is normal behavior
- Provide protection from second hand smoke [a known carcinogen]
- Protect the environment. Cigarette butts continue to be the most prolific form of litter collected in shoreline clean-ups around the globe.
It's not easy to quit smoking. Many people take the opportunity to quit when faced with fewer places to light up. You can find resources and information about smoking and how to quit here or at QuitNow.ca
What is not to love about clean air? Get in touch with your local municipality to learn more about clean air in your community.
Author’s Bio: Today’s blog is written by Clare Cronin from Island Health. Clare is a Practice Consultant with the Tobacco Program at Island Health and worked directly on the expansion of the Clean Air Bylaw. In her free time, Clare and her family (including two young children and a dog) like to explore the beautiful parks that the region has to enjoy.