Pubdate: Thu, 08 Mar 2018
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Morgan Lowrie
Page: A4


Critics fear it will force more to light up indoors

MONTREAL * A Montreal suburb's plan to ban all smoking in public
places is drawing mixed reactions, with one anti-tobacco advocate
saying it will do more harm than good when it comes to second-hand

Hampstead city council adopted a draft bylaw this week that would
prohibit tobacco or marijuana smoking on municipal property, including
sidewalks and streets.

If the bylaw is enacted, Hampstead would become the first municipality
in the country to ban smoking in the street, according to the Canadian
Cancer Society.

The bylaw, which could come into effect following a second vote in
April, does not prohibit electronic cigarettes or smoking in cars.

Mayor William Steinberg says the law would protect people's health and
send a strong anti-smoking message.

He said the city was prompted to act by upcoming legislation to
legalize recreational marijuana, which is worrisome to some of the
town's 7,000 residents.

"Both tobacco and pot, we don't want it happening in public,"
Steinberg told The Canadian Press. "One of the reasons is second-hand
smoke, which is harmful, especially for the elderly, for people with
lung diseases and for young people.

"The second reason is example ... Young kids are still taking it
(smoking) up. And when it comes to the legalization of pot, we
definitely have concerns about more young people smoking pot.

"So we don't want to have people setting a bad example. We don't want
groups of teenagers or young adults going around smoking joints in our
parks or on streets and sidewalks."

But Steinberg denies the bylaw is too draconian for the upscale
residential town, which has no stores or office buildings.

"If somebody wants to smoke a cigarette, they can smoke it on their
property," he told The Canadian Press.

"If somebody is working in one of our municipal buildings, for public
works, you can walk a block and you're out of Hampstead and you can
smoke to your heart's content."

But a spokesman for a non-smokers' rights group believes the
regulation will do more harm than good.

Francois Damphousse says the law will force more people to smoke
indoors, which is much more damaging to the health of those around

"We have been working for decades to try to control smoking indoors,
and we want people to go smoke outdoors, and now they can't even go
smoke outdoors," he said in an interview.

He said most complaints about second-hand smoke come from tenants or
landlords who are bothered by smoking in their buildings, and he
expects the number of those complaints to only increase if other
cities follow Hampstead's lead.

Michael Bryant of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association believes
the bylaw discriminates against low-income people, who are more likely
to be smokers and less likely to own private residences.

"The social science is clear that while smoking has gone down for the
well-off, it continues to be somewhat medicinal for the poor," he said
in a phone interview.

"The effect is going to be that economically disadvantaged people are
being pushed out of that community."

On the outskirts of Hampstead, several residents told The Canadian
Press they felt the regulation would go too far.

"People should be allowed to smoke on the streets, for goodness sake,"
said Jennifer Sugar, a smoker who lights up on her balcony.

"Second-hand smoke is going to drift away in a second, it's not going
to bother anybody."

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer
Society, says other cities will inevitably follow Hampstead's lead,
especially as they grapple with how to handle the legalization of marijuana.

He said the upcoming legislation is a "prompt" for cities to address
the issue, especially as citizens are increasingly demanding
smoke-free environments.

Personally, he's in favour of Hampstead's ban, pointing out that
people will still be allowed to smoke on private property.

"Every restriction is a motivation for people to quit," he

- - with files from Jean Philippe Angers
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