File Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet
File Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet

Should there be more smoke free areas?

by - Story: 59597

It’s National Non-Smoking Week, and Kelowna is preparing to do its part to further the movement toward a smoke-free society. As of February 1, all Kelowna beaches, parks, trails and recreation areas are going smoke-free.

This change brings Kelowna in line with the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), West Kelowna as well as other cities in B.C. and around the world that have banned or restricted smoking in recreation areas.

According to Ian Wilson, Parks Manager for the City of Kelowna, it’s something the people of Kelowna want.

“In a 2008 Canadian Cancer Society survey, seventy-five per cent of the respondents from Kelowna support regulations to prohibit smoking at beaches, parks and playgrounds,” says Wilson.

It is also a change requested by the Medical Health Officers of Interior Health.

When Council approved the bylaw change in August, Medical Health Officers cited research showing that particles from tobacco smoke are still present at harmful levels in outdoor settings up to seven metres away from the source.

Council also noted the prevention benefits of modeling smoke-free behaviour to children and teens.

Wilson also points out the environmental benefits of eliminating smoking on beaches and in recreation areas.

“First there’s a decreased risk of smoking leading to fire in the park plus fewer tobacco toxins will be entering the soil and water. And from a Parks Services perspective, we won’t have to spend so much time picking up cigarette butts from the beaches.”

Meantime, Wilson says the city will take a slow approach to enforcement after City Council was unable to find the $19,000 requested during budget deliberations for signage and additional cigarette receptacles.

Wilson says without the necessary signage the city will look at a strong educational approach at the outset.

The City will seek voluntary compliance with the new policy, though bylaw officers could issue an offence notice of $100 for those who refuse to comply with the bylaw.

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