Halifax has only one designated smoking area near its busiest hospitals
It’s not uncommon to see dozens of people smoking on sidewalks surrounding hospital properties in central Halifax.
However, that is now technically illegal unless done so in a designated smoking area [DSA]. But there currently is only one DSA within the areas surrounding Halifax’s busiest hospitals.
“We don’t have any locations directly across from any of the hospitals. We have a shared responsibility with this, obviously. We need some receptacles for people who smoke but we recognize that society is mostly going smoke-free,” Brendan Elliott said, a senior communications advisor with the municipality.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority [NSHA] requested that the municipality not include outdoor DSAs surrounding hospital properties and the authority didn’t apply for them.
The NSHA feels healthy public policy includes addressing concerns surrounding the impacts of second-hand smoke and feel that increased visibility of smoking may encourage people to smoke.
“They’re actually in violation of the bylaw if they’re smoking on city sidewalks and not within an outdoor designated smoking area. So we’ve been encouraging all of our staff and visitors to think of ways that they can cut back to reduce their tobacco use and to use a designated outdoor smoking area,” said Holly Gillis, manager of healthy communities within the public health department.
A social worker who serves on the front lines of community health feels the smoking prohibition doesn’t actually help decrease smoking.
“For most people, it takes about seven times of attempting to quit something before we actually change our behaviours. So this actually keeps people further away from reaching their goal when really we’d rather see this money and this effort going into programs that are helping people quit smoking,” said Megan MacBride, a social worker with the North End Community Health Centre.
There are smoking cessation programs available through Addictions and Mental Health programs and the public is able to access that information through 811.
However, MacBride feels many of her clients face waitlist and transportation barriers when trying to attend sessions and utilize resources.
That’s why she feels an increase in funding for more smoking cessation programs would better achieve the goal of decreasing the number of people who smoke, rather than ticketing smokers who aren’t in designated areas.
“Certainly as a healthcare team, we would rather see the money that’s going to enforcing this and the signage and things like that, go into programming for smoking cessation,” MacBride said.
Currently, there are 62 designated smoking areas within the municipality and more may be added during the assessment and transition period.
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