City urged to ban smoking

Interior Health is recommending the City of Penticton toughen up its cigarette-smoking bylaws to bring them in line with those recently created for cannabis.

The health authority wrote to the city last month pointing out several gaps in its smoking bylaws and urges the municipality to follow the lead of 34 other B.C. communities and completely ban cigarette smoking from public spaces.

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.

“This bylaw could be strengthened by covering all public gathering spaces and parks,”  wrote Interior Health tobacco reduction manager Jacqueline Duncan, who added smoking should also be banned from public events like the farmers’ market.

She said wildfire risk mitigation would also be a benefit of banning smoking from trails within the city.

Penticton city staff are recommending a handful of tweaks to the local smoking bylaws in response to the letter but want to wait for public consultation before anything sweeping is brought in.

A report going before council Tuesday asks to amend the city’s smoking bylaws to ban smoking within 7.5 metres of all bus stops and bump up the buffer from doorways and intakes from six metres to 7.5.

More signage will also be installed informing the public of no-smoking areas.

“Staff are recommending that council give support to the minor bylaw amendments and then begin the public education and engagement process on a more complete smoking ban in public places, prior to 2022,” said planning manager Blake Laven.

Council will discuss the matter Tuesday afternoon.

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