Regina city council has put more spark in its smoking bylaw.
On Monday night, it unanimously voted to approve to update the city’s Smoking Bylaw, which means smoking and vaping will be banned on the patios of restaurants and bars.
It also means a ban on smoking in all city-owned outdoor public spaces, like parks, trails and golf courses.
“The reason for the bylaw changes is to change the norms, the values, the practices in a way that can provide a safer, healthy environment for everyone, no matter where you are,” said Mayor Michael Fougere.
The updated bylaw will go further to ban smoking and vaping within a 10-metre buffer zone of entrances, windows and air exchanges of public buildings. As well, vaping will be banned in any enclosed public place where smoking is already banned.
“We’re not asking people not to smoke, we’re asking them to not smoke in public places where there are people with all kinds of asthma and other issues and children,” said Councillor Barbara Young
“It’s an umbrella health issue that we’re talking about here,” added Councillor Joel Murray.
In late 2016, city council directed administration to conduct a public consultation to determine the appetite for changing the Smoking Bylaw. A total of 9,400 completed responses to a survey were collected, which generated more than 4,300 comments. Many respondents wanted to see a change in the bylaw to regulate smoking in outdoor public places.
Taking that as its lead, council finalized the bylaw Monday night.
“We’ve been telling the City of Regina it’s long overdue for years now but at the end of the day, they listened,” said Jennifer May with the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.
The only two major Canadian cities that have not banned smoking on patios are Regina and Winnipeg.
May said she is completely happy the way the bylaw went through, also sharing that this is what the public wanted and the city delivered.
“This bylaw is about protecting public health and protection from second-hand smoke. It is not meant to punish people who smoke,” she said.
A report from administration indicated enforcement in other jurisdictions has not been a significant problem. The city’s plan is to make sure the public is educated on the changes, believing signage is likely to aid in that. Public health inspectors from the Regina-Qu’Appelle Health Region currently conduct complaint-driven and spot inspections. Regina police have also indicated enforcement of the updated bylaw will be incidental to current police duties.
Nathan Markwart, president of the Gay and Lesbian Community of Regina, had requested the city consider implementing an exemption for the Q Nightclub and Lounge, citing reasons of privacy, security and safety.
Councillor Andrew Stevens put an amendment on the table reflecting that, but it was defeated.
Technically, there will be two exemptions from the bylaw, relating to testing and teaching devices at vape retail stores, and during outdoor traditional spiritual and cultural ceremonies.
The administration indicated beyond those, once an exemption is brought into a bylaw it can complicate matters in that the playing field is different and it will elicit other establishments to come forward in a similar manner.
Instead, city administration has been directed to undertake a review of the environment around the building to ensure and enhance future safety for those who attend the nightclub.
The new smoking bylaw will come into effect July 15, 2017.