If elected to be mayor of Edmonton, candidate Don Koziak said he would revisit the city bylaw regarding smoking indoors.
“Why this all-or-nothing solution?
“I’ve grown tired of seeing my fellow citizens outside, freezing, because the city will not allow for reasonable accommodation indoors,” he said at a news conference Thursday.
Koziak compared 13 years of alcohol prohibition in the United States, from 1920 to 1933, to Alberta’s 13-year ban on indoor smoking as a “failed experiment.”
“The city should consult with mechanical engineers to determine what level of ventilation is required in order to mitigate the smoke in some indoor areas,” he said.
Koziak, 53, is the general manager and post-owner of Edmonton’s Chateau Louis Hotel & Conference Centre. He claims the current smoking bylaws affects some of his customers in a negative way.
“Business owners who are prepared to spend the money in order to meet those ventilation requirements could then be certified and have the option of allowing smoking in designated areas. In this way some restaurants and bars and patios who want, will be able to accommodate smoking clients.”
Koziak, who says he smokes cigars, also wants the top 10 rows of Commonwealth Stadium to be smoking-friendly, so patrons don’t have to exit the outdoor stadium “for a quick puff.”
When asked about the larger public health and public health concerns, he said:
“Life is risky. We’re forcing all the smokers to be outside. Granted, the vast majority of us are non-smokers but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be some accommodation for smokers.”
Koziak believes that the risk of second-hand smoke is overblown.
“The poison is in the dose, and the idea that getting a molecule of second-hand smoke is going to cause you health problems has been, generally, disreputed,” he said when asked if inconvenience trumps public health.
Koziak addressed how, as mayor, he would achieve such a radical change when smoking legislation is controlled by the provincial government.
“Thirteen years ago, the City of Edmonton brought in their smoking bylaw and a year or two later, the province copied aspects of it and brought in their provincial bylaw. So I think this may be an impetus for the province to follow through,” Koziak said.
The chances of that happening could be slim, if the changes introduced in the past decade are any indication.
The 2008 Tobacco Reduction Act introduced widespread bans on smoking in public places and workplaces, banned the sale of tobacco products from all healthcare facilities, public post-secondary campuses, pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy, and put in place tighter restrictions on retail displays, advertising and promotion of tobacco products.
The province further tightened the rules in 2014 by banning smoking in vehicles with minors present, and in 2015 banning flavoured and menthol tobacco products.
In the city of Edmonton, you can’t smoke:
- Inside a public building
- Within 5 metres of a doorway, window or air intake
- On a patio related to a business, restaurant, lounge or nightclub
- In a bus, taxi, LRT, bus shelter or on an LRT platform
- In bars, bingo halls and casinos
- Within 10 metres at or around playgrounds, spray parks, sports fields and courts and temporary, seasonal outdoor ice skating rinks
The city said smoking is limited to private homes or vehicles and designated smoking areas in the workplace.
Koziak said the federal legalization of pot next year is a factor in his push to change smoking laws. The provincial government is working on new laws to address smoking marijuana.
Koziak is no stranger to the campaign, having run in several municipal and provincial elections. He has run for mayor in the past, and several times for city council. Koziak is one of 13 people vying to be mayor this election.
“As I said going into this, I see my prospects of winning the election as slim and nil, so I really have nothing to lose by arguing some of the issues that maybe haven’t been properly argued in the past.”
The election is on Oct. 16, 2017.