Red Deer becoming a smoke-free zone
Smoking may next be outlawed at children’s festivals, along parade routes and at public markets in Red Deer.
On Monday, city council rubber-stamped its revised smoke-free bylaw by banning smoking within 10 metres in playgrounds, skate parks, toboggan hills, sports fields and skating rinks.
Smoke-free advocates applaud council’s first step in clearing the Red Deer outdoor air of second-hand smoke.
But many are looking to the day when all outdoor events, especially those frequented by children, are declared smoke-free zones.
“We were hoping for a little more but in the grand scheme of things this is pretty much best practice in Alberta right now,” said Sarah Hawkins, a Red Deer public policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/Northwest Territories. “It looks like council really wants to take an even larger leadership role but they are following due diligence and getting more information. I think it is all positive.”
In three months, council will once again delve into the details to potentially prohibit smoking in other outdoor spots and festivals.
During the first reading of the bylaw, one person spoke against the bylaw while three others spoke in support. The city has also received dozens of letters of support since the bylaw was first considered for revision last year.
Gail Foreman, Central Alberta spokesperson for Action on Smoking and Health, echoed Hawkins’ sentiments and applauded council’s apparent understanding of the issue.
“Fifteen or 20 years ago this would be unheard of,” said Foreman. “But we have had a lot of shift in public perception and acceptability. But we know more about the dangers of tobacco use and role modeling for children. The science has come along to support these kind of things. There’s an awareness around that just wasn’t the case years ago.”
Hawkins said the bylaws are effective in creating social change and this should be on the minds of councillors and the general public.
“They get people to reconsider,” she said. “They get people to discuss it and they empower people to be able to talk to someone if they are smoking around their kid. Look, you can’t actually do that.
“We are noticing change that we are excited about.”
The city already prohibits smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces, including drinking establishments and private clubs.
A public awareness campaign will be rolled out in the coming months. Rule breakers could net a fine of $200 for a first offence and up to $2,500 for subsequent offences.