Smoking Bylaw Changes Temporarily Butted Out

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If you want to enjoy a cigarette in the sunshine at a local watering hole’s outdoor you likely only have a couple of more weeks to do so as the City of Moose Jaw is beefing up its existent Smoking Bylaw. The changes will see the new tougher anti-smoking, anti-vaping and anti-cannabis use in pubic places rolling out with a communications plan on July 1st and finally in place by the end of August.

Under the changes to the Bylaw smoking will no longer be allowed at outdoor patios or other similar spaces but the changes did not come with concerns from Council that the City should butt out of the affairs of local bars and restaurants.

Speaking about proposed amendments which would allow establishments who do not allow those under 19 to be on their premises or those premises which do not allow those 18 and under to be in them after 10 pm to allow smoking on their patios Councillor Scott McMann said he really “struggled” not allowing the exemptions.

“I have a real concern we make the assumption we know what is better for their businesses than they do,” Councillor McMann stated.

He also asked questions about the specifics of the Bylaw as it applied to dog parks, golf courses and large grassed areas.

“Golf courses, dog parks and large grassed areas have been exempted I don’t see it there,” Councillor McMann stated, going on to ask where it was in the Bylaw.

Tracy Wittke, city clerk, said the exemptions were in the definitions.

“The intent was to exempt those and if you feel it needs to be more clearly defined we can do that,” Wittke told Councillor McMann.

Before Councillor McMann made the amendment there was an opponent in the gallery who spoke against it.

Dr Mark Vooght, medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health District, said he was in favour of the changes except for the proposed amendments.

“I would dearly love to support the bylaw amendment the only issue and the one concern I have are where the options are presented,” Dr Vooght said, adding “age or time of day doesn’t matter it is a health issue…we don’t want to be exposed to it at any time.”

He claimed there were “50 times more toxins” where there was cigarette smoke than in surrounding unpolluted air.

“There is no safe amount of tobacco or vape they can be exposed to,” Dr Vooght said.

Dr Mark Browne backed up Dr Vooght when it came to the amendment.

“An amemdment like this would be a backward step for public health,” Dr Brown said, adding “the cost of smoking illnesses is in the billions and billions of dollars to health care.”

“Second hand smoke is just as deadly after 10 oclock at night.”

Councillor Chris Warren spoke in favour of an unamended bylaw.

“I agree with a lot of the comments made by our delegations,” Councillor Warren said going on to reference the health effects of workers who have to be around smokers on patios and there was a large number of people who supported it.

Councillor Crystal Froese spoke against the amendment on a personal level.

“My mom was a smoker, she loved it and she died from it…the stats are not there their businesses won’t suffer,” Councillor Froese said.

Regarding such events as Sidewalk Days Wittke said they were taken into conseideration and the applicants for closing the street could apply for temporary designated smiking areas,

“If they so chose to have a designated smoking area (they can)…we felt temporary smoking areas was just a better way to administer it.”

On the vote to amend the Smoking Bylaw to allow smoking on patios where people 18 and under are not allowed or after 10 pm once those under 19 leave the amendment was defeated 5 - 2 with Councillors McMann and Brian Swanson opposed.

On the unamended Smoking Bylaw it failed to pass because of a similar 5 -2 vote on the Third Reading. Councillors McMann and Swanson voted against the unamended bylaw while Councillors Froese, Dawn Luhning, Warren, Heather Eby and Mayor Fraser Tolmie were in favour.

Due to the fact the Smoking Bylaw was not voted for unanimously on the third reading it must come back to the next Council meeting in order for another vote on the third reading. Under the applicable legislation bylaws can only pass first, second and third reading at a single meeting if there is unanimous support.

Under provisions of the Smoking Bylaw the City is expanding the present bylaw to also include vaping and cannabis smoking along with tobacco smoking. Under the provisions of the bylaw for the most part wherever you cannot smoke tobacco you will not be able to vape or smok cannabis.

Additonally there will be 10 metre no smoking zones around all doorways, air intakes and open windows of public buildings as well as restrictions in playground areas.

There are two exemptions which will allow First Nations to use tobacco for traditional cultural purposes.

A second exemption will allow vape shops to allow vaping to take place in order to allow the shops to properly instruct users in the proper use of vaping products.

SEE RELATED - Executive Votes On Smoking Bylaw Changes

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