SUMMERSIDE – Members of Smoke Free P.E.I. are hoping to bring a new normal to the Island by encouraging communities and municipalities to feature 100 per cent smoke free public spaces.
“It seems simple, but it’s not. A facility can be smoke free, but then 15 feet from the front door there is a designated smoking area. So, then the facility isn’t 100 per cent smoke free,” said Frank Morrison of SmokeFree P.E.I.
Recently a push for multi-unit apartment buildings to become smoke free has resurfaced.
But Morrison would like to see all public spaces smoke-free.
“A hotel room, multi-unit apartment, the park, the rink, church, campgrounds are all public places. A public place, following the federal guidelines, is everyplace that you can think of, except your own property,” he explained.
In order to achieve that, Morrison and members of Smoke-Free P.E.I want to work with communities to introduce a bylaw for tobacco-free policies and roll out a program with objectives such as creating a healthy environment to live, work and play, eliminating exposure to second hand smoke and drifting smoke, assisting individuals in quitting smoking and encouraging communities and individuals to be positive role models.
The bylaw would include all municipal, recreational and business properties and multi-unit dwellings as well as the perimeter of the property, including parking lots, as well as events like parades and other municipally sponsored events.
Morrison hopes to see the program roll out in two phases.
The first is an ongoing process of delivering tobacco-free policy to municipalities and community groups across the province and then have an official draft created and voted on.
The second involves meeting with community groups or sport and recreation staff to develop and implement a strategy specific to the community.
Gary MacDougall, also a member of Smoke-Free P.E.I., says getting rid of smoking starts in educating youths.
“Adults rarely develop the habit and become smokers. It happens in adolescence. When I was growing up, the norm was you collected bottles and you bought cigarettes. Everybody smoked. Nowadays you can’t sell cigarettes to minors so things are changing, and the key message is that we want Summerside and P.E.I. to have a new normal. And that’s you don’t smoke.”
Summerside city councillor, Bruce MacDougall, voiced support for the idea saying it would be wise to have the governance, policy and strategy committee take a look at the possibility of introducing a policy in Summerside.