Town council received a request for amendments to tighten up Sylvan Lake’s smoking bylaw at this week’s meeting.
Local resident Gail Foreman said that the landscape of tobacco and ‘like’ products is changing with the introduction of such products as electronic smoking products/vapourizers, waterpipes, heated/not burned tobacco and cannabis, several of which give off second-hand smoke.
Foreman told council that she wanted to see the Town’s amendment broaden the definition of smoking.
This would go towards not only reducing second-hand smoke, but would also lessen the impacts of litter, she said.
“What I’m hoping that council will consider is the definition of smoking as Red Deer’s,” she said, noting that that particular bylaw reads, “Smoke or smoking means to inhale, exhale, burn, or have control over a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, hookah pipe, or other lighted smoking implement designed to burn or heat tobacco, or any other weed or substance for the purpose of inhaling or tasting of its smoke or emissions.”
Foreman told council that back in 2013, the City of Red Deer was the first community in Canada to include electronic smoking products in its smoking bylaw as well.
She said the City of Red Deer was lauded for the move, and since then, several provinces have followed that City’s lead and banned electronic smoking in certain indoor and outdoor areas.
That ruling meant that smokers couldn’t use their devices anywhere smoking was already banned, such as cafes, restaurants and near playgrounds.
In her presentation, Foreman also showed the local need for more signage, public education and enforcement in relation to smoke-free places outside, as well as broadening the list of places outdoors that smoking woudn’t be permitted.
Again, she pointed to Red Deer as an example of where places to light up have been significantly restricted.
“Red Deer has included things like parade routes, the farmers’ market and festivals.”
Foreman also told council that cigarettes in general are also the most littered item in the world, with more than 4.5 trillion cigarettes tossed out each year.
According to a power point presentation, she also showed that, “Cigarette and cigarello butts, wrappers, packages and lighters were the most common form of litter found on Alberta’s beaches outnumbering other forms of litter by more than four to one.”
Meanwhile, Foreman added that other communities in Central Alberta are considering Red Deer-like bylaws as well, which would also help reduce the ‘normalization’ of smoking amongst the Town’s relatively young population.
According to a Town of Sylvan Lake Social Needs Assessment 2015, Sylvan Lake has a young population with the average age being 32, and 54% of the population is under the age of 35.
About 65% of households in Sylvan Lake also have kids compared to 60% across the rest of the province.
“We have an opportunity here to protect kids and young adults, and I think it would have an enormous effect on the health of our population and the health of our community,” she said.
Town council received the report as information.