I am very pleased to hear that Red Deer city council is talking about expanding outdoor smoking legislation. There is a lot of merit in creating smoke-free buffer zones around areas designed to promote health and recreation for children.
While smoking rates in the general population are on the decline in Canada, smoking among Alberta youth has increased over the last few years. Our youth are still choosing to smoke despite universal knowledge about the dangers of tobacco use, which will result in nearly 1,300 entirely preventable lung cancer deaths in Alberta this year.
Those who start smoking before the age of 18 tend to have the hardest time quitting when they are older — too many are never able to break the deadly addiction.
Smoke-free outdoor play spaces not only reduce youth exposure to second-hand smoke, they also reinforce the message that smoking is not normal behavior. This will help decrease the likelihood that Red Deer youth will experiment with tobacco products.
Furthermore, any smoking restriction, including outdoor smoking bans around spaces like playgrounds have proven to support adults in quitting smoking.
Almost 80 per cent of current smokers have tried or are trying to quit. Supportive smoke-free environments can help people to achieve this goal — especially in those environments where they bring their children to play.
Let’s turn our outdoor play spaces into areas that truly promote health. Our children and our communities deserve it.
Sarah Hawkins, Public Policy Analyst
Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division