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Outdoor butt ban plan off to council

A push by the local public health unit to clamp down on outdoor smoking goes to a city council committee next week.
City staff are seeking approval from council to take follow-up action on a report that Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health presented to the city in October.
The public health report said surveys done last year found a high level of support in Guelph for some form of outdoor smoking restrictions. Health unit staff wanted the city to enact a “smoke-free outdoor spaces” bylaw, which would ban smoking at playgrounds, parks, sports fields, splash pads and bus shelters, as well as on restaurant patios and within nine metres of doorways to public places and workplaces.
A new city staff report, which goes to a March 19 meeting of council’s community and social services committee, says Ontario municipalities have the power to prohibit or regulate the smoking of tobacco in public places and workplaces. However, they don’t have the power to prohibit smoking on public sidewalks, it notes.
“There is an apparent growing interest for more smoke-free public spaces outdoors, even among smokers,” it says. “As people’s exposure to second-hand smoke decreases, their tolerance for exposure decreases as well, resulting in a greater public demand for the protection from second-hand smoke outdoors.”
Health risks of second-hand smoke are well established, the city staff report says. “It’s been reported that outdoor levels of tobacco smoke within one to two metres of a lit cigarette can be as high as indoors.”
City staff intend to assemble a working group, which would work with the health unit to review its report “and further consider opportunities for community engagement surrounding this matter of personal choice and the health, social and environmental impacts on others.”
City staff will also investigate and report on the implications of a smoking ban “for public spaces outside of parkland.”
Last November, the provincial government introduced the Youth Smoking Prevention Act as new legislation. Included in this draft legislation are proposals to prohibit smoking on playgrounds, sport fields, restaurant and bar patios; double fines for those who sell tobacco to youths; and ban the sale of flavoured tobacco products targeted at youths.
After the proposed legislation was introduced, a local Public Health official said this wouldn’t stop the local health unit from pushing city hall – as well as Wellington and Dufferin counties – to enact an even tighter ban.

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