AMHERST – Smoking in certain areas of Amherst is now prohibited.
Amherst town council recently passed its smoke-free recreational places bylaw that prohibits smoking in all public parks and playgrounds, as well as all walking trails.
Smoking will also be restricted to a designated area outside the Amherst Stadium.
“The main goal of this bylaw is to reduce childhood exposure to second hand smoke,” Deputy Mayor Dale Fawthrop said.
The town has been considering a tougher ban on smoking since a presentation from the Canadian Cancer Society in January.
Included in the ban is the McDonald’s-Rotary Children’s Accessible Playground on Beacon Street, the Rotary Centennial Park on Willow Street, Dickey Park and the Lions Park on Cornwall Avenue.
It’s also banned at the Amherst Lions Club Skate Park beside the Amherst Stadium and on the Centennial Walk Trail, as well as the walking trails located in the Rotary Centennial Park and Dickey Park.
The maximum fine for breaking the bylaw is $200.
While some smokers have voiced their displeasure as further restrictions on their habit, the cancer society is applauding the move.
“The society is pleased the town has taken a leadership role in passing a bylaw that will make outdoor public spaces healthier by protecting children and adults from the harms associated with smoking,” communications manager Barbara Johnson said.
Johnson said other communities that have implemented a similar bylaw have found it to be largely self-enforced.
“Good signage which clearly states the public space as smoke-free is very effective,” she said.
The society was hoping the town would increase the ban to include outdoor markets, festival and event grounds and parade routes. The town did consider the enhancements in an earlier form of the bylaw, but opted for now to prohibit it from outdoor recreational spaces.