Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said a councillor brought forward proposed bylaw changes to a council meeting. We regret the error.
Smoking and vaping within public parks and along pathways in Calgary may soon come to an end.
At Friday’s meeting of the community development committee, city officials proposed a bylaw that would see a ban on smoking and vaping in these areas. The suggestion follows research and engagement the city did on the issue starting in 2019.
If city council approves the bylaw change, Calgary would join cities like Ottawa, Halifax, Vancouver and Edmonton with similar smoking prohibitions in parks and pathways.
Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said this bylaw change would help limit the exposure of these behaviours to children.
“We do know there’s increased research, especially around vaping and the harmful effects,” said Penner. “If we can curb activities and behaviours around smoking and vaping through bylaw then that’s something that is a benefit for some people.”
While festivals and events would still see designated smoking areas, Penner added the bylaw could also allow for similar designated spots in some public parks.
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Some smokers, however, say the latest proposal is too much.
“We already face so many rules and regulations around smoking and vaping as it is,” Adam Demers, owner of Cheap Smokes & Cigars, said.
Demers added there are already enough restrictions on smokers — who he believes are a minority group within the city. He said rather than limiting the number of places a person can smoke, the city should instead provide more education while regulating the product.
“I believe it should be sold at 18 plus regulated stores only, and remove it from convenience stores and gas station chains,” he said. “That would definitely reduce the available consumption for youth and minors to get a hold of this product.”
The latest bylaw to be presented to council isn’t a new idea, at least not in Alberta.
Les Hagen, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said the City of Red Deer adopted the idea 10 years ago.
Since then, 20 municipalities across the province have followed suit, including Okotoks, Strathmore and St. Albert. Edmonton has also banned smoking at two-thirds of its parks — which applies to parks with playgrounds.
“What we need to do is set the social standard and to de-normalize smoking in public places,” said Hagen.
What’s concerning to him, Hagen said, is the number of young children and young adults vaping.
“We know that the primary risk factor of vaping is identical to the primary risk factor of smoking, and that is nicotine addiction,” he said. “We also know that kids who vape are three times as likely to start smoking.”
The bylaw is expected to be voted on by council next month. If passed, it will come into effect August 1.
–with files from Adam Toy, Global News
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