Red Deer council urged to expand smoking ban

Banning smoking within 10 metres of a playground, soccer field or other recreational area where children play would be welcomed here, say some Red Deer residents.

Banning smoking within 10 metres of a playground, soccer field or other recreational area where children play would be welcomed here, say some Red Deer residents.

City of Edmonton passed a bylaw this spring banning cigarette smoking within recreational areas where children frequent. Red Deer councillors Lynne Mulder and Chris Stephan said they would support bringing a similar ban here.

“It’s for the kids, but it’s also a nuisance for the people around who don’t smoke,” said Stephan, a father of three small children.

Stephan believes council would have to seek such a bylaw.

Mulder said it’s likely this issue will come to city council chambers soon. Council would consider amending the bylaw to add these restrictions.

She’s received a lot of emails from residents requesting the city’s smoke free bylaw be expanded.

“I really do believe we should keep the air around our children safe,” said Mulder. “So I would certainly support something like that.”

The City of Red Deer prohibits smoking in all indoor public places and work places including drinking establishments and private clubs. Individuals who smoke in non-smoking areas will be responsible for fines ranging from $200 to court imposed fines of up to $2,500.

Mulder Kalinka Borissova-Petkova wrote a letter to the Advocate, expressing her surprise at how many adults were smoking and discarding their butts in front of children at Rotary Park and the playground at Bower ponds.

“And children running around, playing, enjoying childhood (subconsciously) were breathing in someone else’s smoke,” said Borissova-Petkova, a mother of a small child. “I am asking our city council to change the bylaw in favour of those little children playing outside on the designated areas for them, called playgrounds, and prohibit smoking there.”

Red Deer resident Ron Baugh expressed concerns as well, saying both the city bylaw and the provincial laws require physical buildings for smoking restrictions and as a result, events such as Saturday’s public market in Red Deer, can permit smoking.

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said she can understand how some people would like to see smoking banned in vehicles to protect child passengers.

“And I get it around food and perhaps even festivals, but where I’m stuck right now is the whole element of parks,” Wyntjes said. “How far do we go on that? How do we police that because that involves additional resources as well.”

Wyntjes said sometimes it’s better to work with public health agencies and Alberta Health Services on educating people about the risks of smoking.

At the Rotary playground, Red Deerian Brad Layden said expanding the ban to playgrounds doesn’t make sense.

“There’s a lot of room for that smoke to get out and not bother anybody,” said Layden, a father of three.

Shanda Lyons, a Red Deer area mother of a toddler son, said she wouldn’t mind seeing the city ban smoking in child playing areas, even though she smokes.

“I try to stay well away from my son when I have a lit cigarette,” said Lyons as she left the Kin Kanyon playground area. “I prefer that other people don’t smoke around him.”

Amy McRobbie of Red Deer said she would love to see Red Deer ban smoking in these areas. She doesn’t see incidences of smoking directly next to playgrounds that often.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea — just to keep the smoking away from the kids,” said McRobbie, a mother of three small children.

Chelsey Campbell, a Red Deer mother of three, said she’s a non-smoker so she thinks a bylaw prohibiting smoking near children at play is a good idea.

“I don’t want my kids exposed to it,” said Campbell.

Sometimes she sees parents smoking close to their children at parks.

“I always want to say something, but I don’t,” she said.