Campbell River has joined the list of communities backing efforts to have smoking banned in outdoor public places.
At its Monday night meeting, council endorsed a Canadian Cancer Society initiative to have the B.C. government prohibit the use of tobacco and vapor products in outdoor gathering spaces province-wide.
Megan Klitch, tobacco lead with the Canadian Cancer Society, wrote in a letter to city council that the move is aimed at prohibiting smoking and vaping on public patios and at parks, playgrounds and beaches, and includes guidelines for post-secondary campuses.
She said the goal is to help reduce the incidence of exposure to second-hand smoke and the annual economic burden attributed to tobacco which she said is $2 billion in B.C. alone.
“Effective tobacco control measures save lives, financial resources and are vital to protecting the integrity of B.C.’s healthcare system,” Klitch said.
While council as a whole voted to support the initiative, not all councillors were on board.
Councillors Charlie Cornfield, Michele Babchuk and Marlene Wright were all opposed.
Coun. Cornfield said he thought the restrictions were going too far.
“I don’t like zealotry in any form and I think it’s expanding that too much,” Cornfield said, adding that there are other behaviours that should also be taken into consideration when it comes to protecting our health. “We tend to turn a blind eye to the smoking of marijuana as well and I think that’s got equal or worse health risks.”
Coun. Wright said she agreed with Cornfield’s assessment that such restrictions are pushing the boundary.
“I’ve never been a smoker but I feel that we’ve made some restrictions and if we’re going to sell the tobacco and they don’t have anywhere to smoke it, what are we going to do? “she said. “Everything will be illegal. I think we have to be realistic about it and fair.”
The rest of council, however, was supportive of the Canadian Cancer Society’s initiative which was brought to the council table for endorsement by Mayor Andy Adams.
The society has been writing to municipalities across the province to garner support before bringing its recommendation to the provincial government.
The driving force behind the initiative is second-hand smoke and the dangers it can present.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, studies of particulate matter have shown that in an outdoor setting, second-hand smoke can be as concentrated as in an indoor setting.
Every year, more than 800 Canadians who don’t smoke die from second-hand smoke exposure, says the society.