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JOURNALISM: Smoking Bylaw [Download .doc version]


News Story, Strathroy-Caradoc Smoking Bylaw
by Jeffrey Reed, As Published By Postmedia for Strathroy Age Dispatch


When Strathroy-Caradoc ushered in a new year, the municipality also introduced a new smoking bylaw. Now it's up to municipal staff to clear the air about where you can smoke and where you must butt out.

The Smoke Free Ontario Act 2017 prohibits smoking or vaping in any enclosed workplace, any enclosed public space and any other place designated as smoke-free and vape-free. This includes a no-smoking zone on any municipal vehicles including snowplows and sanders.

Now, as of Jan. 1, 2019, you may not smoke within nine metres of any entrance to a municipal facility in Strathroy-Caradoc, nor can you smoke within four metres of any municipal parking lot.

The new bylaw, passed by the newly-elected Strathroy-Caradoc council at their Dec. 17 meeting, also prohibits smoking within two buffer zones, according to chief administrative officer Greg McClinchey. He said smoking is not permitted within a 150-metre radius of the lot behind Town Hall, nor is it allowed within 150 metres of the lot beside Garden Lane adjacent to the Strathroy & Area Seniors' Centre. Streets are exempt.

There are exemptions to new By-Law No. 92-18. The prohibition of smoking does not apply to a highway, including a pedestrian sidewalk adjacent to the highway. The bylaw also exempts a 4-metre radius of the front of a mobile home or travel trailer within a lease park. And the new smoking regulations do not apply to a public transportation vehicle or taxicab.

There are also exemptions involving cannabis, including use of marijuana for medical purposes. In addition, the bylaw states it "does not prohibit an Aboriginal person from smoking tobacco or holding lighted tobacco if the activity is carried out for traditional Aboriginal cultural or spiritual purposes."

The new bylaw has sparked an effort amongst municipal staff who now must educate residents of and visitors to Strathroy-Caradoc on where they cannot smoke. Those convicted of breaking the new bylaw face a $1,000 fine under the Provincial Offences Act.

According to McClinchey, "From an enforcement perspective, I don't think it serves any purpose having police officers with tape measures. It's not practical. So what we've done is said, no smoking, period (on municipally-owned properties).

"Whether it's cannabis or tobacco, what (the bylaw) is saying is, people have every right to do what they wish on public roadways, and in their own homes, but we've taken the action to regulate it on municipally-owned property," McClinchey said.

Strathroy-Caradoc will initially receive about $11,000 from federal and provincial governments for aid in implementing the new bylaw. McClinchey said the municipality has already reached out to the Ontario tobacco enforcement office, and the Middlesex-London Health Unit, in order to secure appropriate signage.

"The goal of the bylaw has never been to catch people," he said. "The goal is to have enforcement. But it's through education that the objective will be attained."

Middlesex-London Health Unit's Linda Stobo, program manager for chronic disease prevention and tobacco control, agreed that education is the key to Strathroy-Caradoc's smoking bylaw enforcement.

"The (Middlesex-London) Health Unit looks forward to the opportunity to work with the municipality of Stathroy-Caradoc to support them with the implementation of the new bylaw. Education is very important, and that is something that is very important to (us) as well so that people understand not only the rules but also any of the health effects and concerns related to smoking, regardless of what substance is being smoked," Stobo said.

Rookie councillor John Brennan said it's difficult to estimate the total cost to the municipality to educate the public and its staff on the new bylaw, and to put proper measures in place to enforce it. And he agreed with McClinchey in regards to policing the new policy regarding smoking on or near municipal property.

"Our local police get busy on a daily basis with serious matters. Are they going to be called out to deal with someone who has been seen smoking something near a municipal park? They may have bigger fish to fry," Brennan said.

"So at that point, does the (bylaw violation) get passed to bylaw enforcement? I don't see our bylaw enforcement staff going out looking to bust people for smoking in areas where they're not supposed to be smoking."

Butting Out

By-Law No. 92-18 was passed to regulate and prohibit smoking on certain lands within the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc. Regardless of whether a No Smoking sign is posted, no person shall smoke in:

  • An enclosed public place
  • Outdoors on municipal property, including but not limited to parklands and playgrounds
  • Outdoors within, around or on a sports field
  • Outdoors on any land containing playground equipment, except for privately-owned land, which contains a single-detached dwelling as defined under the Corporation of the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc Zoning By-Law
  • Outdoors within 9 metres of any entrance to a municipal facility
  • Outdoors within 4 metres of any municipal parking lot
  • Within a 150-metre buffer zone encircling two municipal parking lots - one behind Town Hall, another adjacent to Strathroy & Area Seniors' Centre behind Garden Lane

 

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