Smokers put on notice

Penticton cigarette smokers, you have been put on notice.

The City of Penticton is formulating a plan to ban cigarette smoking in all public places some time in 2020.

Council gave the direction to city staff while it approved a handful of tweaks to Penticton’s current smoking bylaws.

Interior Health is urging the city to join 34 other B.C. communities that already have public smoking bans in place, but city staff has suggested more local public consultation has to be done on the issue.

Planning manager Blake Laven initially said the city could start planning for an absolute ban in 2022, but was urged to accelerate the process by councillors.

“The data has spoken strongly to second hand smoke,” Coun. Judy Sentes said, adding the prevalence of vaping with youth is “positively frightening.”

Right now, smoking is banned from enclosed public facilities and most major parks. It is, however, permitted in places like Gyro Park, Riverside Park, along the KVR and many other public areas. Smokers are also free to light up on all streets and sidewalks, provided they are not at a transit shelter.

The changes approved Tuesday will see smoking banned within 7.5 metres of all bus stops and bumps up the buffer from doorways and intakes from six metres to 7.5.

The list of public areas where smoking is banned with grow to 16 with the inclusion of the SOEC parking area, but many other areas remain permitted.

“We are proposing that the public be on notice that at some time in the future, a year from now perhaps, that this list will go away and it will just be a ban,” Laven told council.

A motion to work towards a full ban on public smoking passed unanimously. 

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