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Pressure is on to butt out

As national non-smoking week kicks off, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is placing pressure on the BC government to increase restrictions on outdoor smoking.

Jerilynn Maki, the health promotions coordinator for the CCS in Kelowna, says while BC actually has the lowest smoking rate in Canada, at 14 per cent, it could always be better.

"This year's theme for national non-smoking week is 'live, work, play - even better smoke free' and the Canadian Cancer Society really wanted to promote that theme this year by encouraging the BC government to have smoke free outdoor spaces."

The City of Kelowna has already taken steps to eliminate smoking in public parks and beaches, with smoke-free zones being implemented back in 2011.

Maki says while the CCS applauds the city for its anti-smoking by-laws more could still be done.

"You can still smoke on restaurant and pub patios. We would love if the provincial government would pass legislation on all restaurant and pub patios, that way it's an even playing field."

However Ian Wilson, the Park Services Manager at City of Kelowna, says the provincial legislation that prohibits smoking three metres from a door way or window is already heading in the right direction.

"This would impact a lot of patios, especially as the city was looking at Bernard. With the new look of Bernard there may be patios that are right outside business doors, so it could be limited with what you can do in terms of smoking," says Wilson.

According to the Ministry of Health, it doesn’t look like a these restrictions will be provincially enforced anytime soon.

“We're recommending municipalities make these decisions,” says B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

The CCS says tobacco is still the leading cause of  preventable death in BC and the entire country with 37,000 Canadians and 6,000 British Columbians dying each year from tobacco related illnesses, including cancer.

Smoking causes the BC economy approximately 2.3 billion dollars each year according to the CCS.

-- with files from CTV BC

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