For years in Quebec, it’s been illegal to light up inside public spaces but now, the Town of Hampstead is going one step further.
“Walking down the street, in the parks, in our town hall — you cannot smoke,” said William Steinberg, the mayor of Hampstead.
On Monday night, Hampstead passed a bylaw that makes it against the law to smoke on all municipal property — including parks, streets and even sidewalks.
Steinberg says the rule protects people’s health and sends a strong anti-smoking message.
“Our bylaw is geared both to tobacco and once it’s legalized, cannabis,” he said. “For the same sort of reasons: harmful effects of secondhand smoke and the example for young kids.”
Hampstead is not be the first community to adopt such a strict anti-smoking rule.
In the town of Kentville, N.S., it’s been illegal to smoke on public property since 2010.
According to the Hampstead bylaw, the town could fine a first-time offender anywhere between $250 and $750.
If you are caught a second time, the infraction could be as high as $1500.
“What Hampstead is doing, I think is really going to put this issue on the national agenda for municipalities from coast to coast,” said Ron Cunningham, spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society.
But surprisingly, Quebec’s Non-Smokers’ Rights Association has concerns about the bylaw.
They fear other cities and boroughs will also eventually adopt similar rules, leading to bigger problems, like pushing smoking back indoors.
“You might have a couple where, for example, the husband smokes but the wife doesn’t so she asks him to go outdoors and smoke, to be careful of the children,” said François Damphousse, director of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association in Quebec.
“He’s gonna say to his wife, ‘I can’t smoke outdoors anymore,’ so he’s gonna go back indoors, and expose his family to secondhand smoke.”
Like it or not, the no-smoking rule in the town will be in effect in the coming days.