By Doug Hallett
The debate over where people can and can’t light up is set to flare again as city hall gets recommendations this week from the local health unit on the issue of outdoor smoking.
Indications point to a push for some sort of expanded smoking ban in public places in Guelph.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health plans to give the City of Guelph a report containing recommendations by the end of the week, health unit officials say.
This report includes results of a survey on the issue done in the city and in the two counties that are also part of the health unit’s area. About 900 of the 2,000 responses to the months-long survey came from Guelph residents, says public health program manager Jennifer McCorriston.
People filled out a paper survey or responded online or by phone to the survey, or provided feedback in person when questioned at various local events this summer.
“We can’t say too much before the report is released, but I think it is fair to say in general there is a fair amount of support” for such a bylaw, McCorriston said Friday.
A report on the issue is to go to the regional health board’s Oct. 2 meeting. As well, different reports tailored to each of the three municipalities and survey responses from their local residents are to go to Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin.The three main concerns related to outdoor smoking in public places are role modelling for youth, health risks related to second-hand smoke and littering, said health promotion specialist Laura Campbell, who’s in charge of the project.
“Those are probably the three main reasons why we want to go ahead with it,” Campbell said Friday in a joint interview with McCorriston.
The Town of Orangeville, which is in Dufferin County, passed a bylaw last year with a $5,000 maximum fine that bans smoking on municipal property.
“No person shall smoke in any lane, municipal building, parking lot, public place, public transit vehicle, recreational sports field, trail, path or workplace within the Town, whether or not a No Smoking sign is posted,” the bylaw says in part.
Reaction so far “seems to be very positive” to Orangeville’s bylaw, probably because of a high degree of initial public support and an extensive public education campaign that was done, Campbell said.
One factor in the health unit’s decision to survey local opinions was a letter to the editor in the Tribune this year. It was from a mother who complained about her and her child being subjected to second-hand smoke at a bus stop in Guelph, McCorriston noted.
The results of the survey done in the local area from May 31 to Aug. 20 were “very much in line” with results of a provincial survey on the issue, which were released last fall, she said.
Each municipality has to make its own decision how to proceed on the issue, McCorriston said.
The role of the health unit is to provide information to the municipal councils and, if asked, to help them draft a bylaw and then do public education on the issue.
“We will work with them to support the direction they want to go,” she said.
The report that will go to the board of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health on Oct. 2 is mainly for information. However, health unit officials are hoping health board members will champion the idea of banning outdoor smoking in many locales.
One significant area related to the outdoor smoking issue is whether to ban smoking in open patios, McCorriston said. It’s already prohibited in covered patios, she said.
By Doug Hallett