Smoking and vaping on outdoor patios and public spaces may be a thing of the past if the public wants it.
On Monday, city councillors voted in favour of public consultations. The city will be asking residents if they would be in favour of a smoking or vaping ban in certain areas, like outdoor patios or public parks.
Ward 3 Councillor Andrew Stevens said despite his indifference to the status quo, he said he’s in favour of a change, if that’s what residents want.
“Personally, I’m kind of indifferent to it. Already, you have an open air patio, people are smoking and it’s not in a closed-air environment, it wasn’t a big deal to me,” he said.
“What I like about this motion is that it seeks public consultation. It wasn’t about my opinion. It was actually about what do the people want to see and what are the health impacts,” Stevens said.
“But residents made it clear that it’s important to them.”
According to Canadian Cancer Society spokesperson Donna Pasiechnick, the impact of second-hand smoke should be reason enough.
“Depending on the number of smokers, the area, the wind velocity, it can be problematic and it can be a health hazard,” Pasiechnick said.
Pasiechnick said it is crucial that government restricts smoking in places where people congregate.
“Outdoor patios, those are workplaces for many people. Those workers deserve the same protection as workers indoors. Parks and playgrounds – we’re trying to provide positive role modeling for kids. So we don’t want them to be exposed to second-hand smoke,” she said.
Among major cities, only Regina and Winnipeg still allow smoking on outdoor patios. Saskatoon has been smoke-free on patios since 2004.
“I think we can learn from those communities and ensure we have the most comprehensive bylaw we can have,” Pasiechnick said.
Beer Bros. had implemented their own ban on patio smoking nine years ago. Partner Greg Hanwell said it’s time the rest of the city caught up.
“I don’t understand the point of consultations. Smoking has been largely de-normalized. Just go ahead and do it. It’s past time,” Hanwell said.
“Get with the times, they’re way behind.”
Public consultations will begin in 2017, with a report due by April.