Smoking bylaw may be too tough

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It could become much more difficult to light up in Amherst if the town moves forward with a proposed non-smoking bylaw that will prohibit smoking on all town-owned properties. The question is how far is the town prepared to go to force smokers to butt out? Is dropping the hammer on smokers through a legislation going too far?

Under the proposed bylaw, that will be discussed during council’s regular meeting on Monday, the town will consider prohibiting smoking in all municipally-owned public parks and playgrounds, public walking trails and properties around town-owned buildings, including the town hall and library complex as well as the Amherst Stadium parking lot.

Smoking would also be banned on sidewalks and streets in school zones and on streets during public events and festivals such as Canada Day celebrations in Victoria Square.

Violating the bylaw could come with a fine of up to $200.

Amherst is following the lead of other municipalities in clamping down on smoking. Bridgewater has banned smoking from all town properties, Truro from the public portion of Inglis Place, and Kentville doesn’t allow smoking at any town-owned recreational facility.

The move comes after a presentation in January from the Canadian Cancer Society urging the town to support smoke-free recreation spaces. While the society is advocating a voluntary ban, with signage, Amherst’s proposal goes much farther.

The dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke are well publicized and the impact on the health budget enormous. Every year, too many people lose their battle to disease brought on by years of smoking – whether through cancer, emphysema or COPD.

There are some who will applaud the town for taking a tough stance on smoking, there will be those questioning how far it needs to go to send the message. The cancer society itself has indicated that 90 per cent of smokers will abide by signs asking them to butt out. It’s the other 10 per cent the town is trying to deal with.

Having a tough bylaw is one thing, enforcing it is another battle. Several town councillors have already expressed concerns with having bylaw enforcement officers lurking around every park and town building willingly handing out tickets.

Going to a bylaw may be putting the cart before the horse and could anger more people than intended. Public education and raising awareness through a voluntary effort may be the best prescription. The big stick of a bylaw is something that could come later if smokers don’t volunteer to butt out.

Organizations: Canadian Cancer Society

Geographic location: Amherst Stadium, Victoria Square, Inglis Place

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Recent comments

  • Bubba Jay
    April 19, 2012 - 01:01

    I smoke, does that automatically make me a bad, disrespectful person? I have an issue with people burning oil and wood and with people driving atv's all over the place. How many mud boggers have stalled in a water hole and drained their oil on the spot or just poluted the water with fuel,oil or grease? How many people burning wood light their fires with either garbage or recyclable materials instead of using the wood? How many people polute my air patrolling the parking lot waiting for a closer spot to park? How many people renovate for nothing more than a change? We all have our quirks and I certainly have mine, but is my smoking as bad for your health as huddling around a smoldering beverage holder at a kids soccer game or the poisons alot wear on their bare skin and subsequently breath and force others to breath? My cigs might be flamable, but they don't also come with an explosive or crossbones sign yet, but many bug sprays do and many people apply them where they sit and stand.

  • curious?
    April 09, 2012 - 07:51

    To "really?"....My comment was only to show that...the police KNOW the "assistance" town folk more so than others. They are not likely to fine these people as to someone who looks like they can afford the fine. They know the extent of their mentality, and know it would do no good to fine them. I'm just wondering of the fairness in this situation???? And is all this a waste of time for the police. If their were designated smoking areas, they could just point in that direction to remind people that is where they need to be. That might save time and money....possibly???

  • Janet Dale
    March 28, 2012 - 09:17

    I smoked for 22 yrs, my husband almost as long. I've been smoke-free for over 5 yrs now, and thankfully I can breathe. I do have one lasting effect of my previous lifestyle, and it's managed well. However, I can't tolerate being around any second hand smoke now, it makes me quite ill, and I physically hold my breath when I have to walk around people who are choosing to smoke and blow it in my face when I'm out walking my dog, or entering any stores. (not just Amherst of course). So there are consequences for your actions, and non-smokers are paying for them. I pay for your right to smoke every time I try to use a sidewalk... When our family opts out of Canada Day celebrations every year it's for one reason only. Smoking. We tried the Xmas parade this year after a few years off, but it was the same thing. We had to move our "obese selves" 1/2 a dozen times as people kept on lighting up and it put a damper on our enjoyment of the festivities. Not to worry though, I told our 7 yr old why we had to move :) Thanks in advance for this season's parade, and our empty space at Canada Day DT because it's your right to blow smoke in my 7 yr olds face. Let us know how it goes. Oh, and before you rant all over me for being a "self righteous, upper class, non-smoker", it's 2012, get with the program or at least one that helps you quit your habit. You'll be thanking yourself you did.

  • sueb
    March 27, 2012 - 09:10

    Why not just have designated smoking places in these public areas - places away from areas the general public must travel through? For example, designate a smoking area around the side of the stadium where the general public doesn't go, or an area off to the side of parks away from entrances, rides, pools, ball diamonds or other areas frequented by the general public. I'm sure most if not all smokers would be fine with stepping off to the side of a park or public building. Once you've got designated smoking areas in place then put a ban in place for all other public spaces. Anyone who smokes outside the designated area gets their butt (pardon the pun) fined off.

  • Curious?
    March 26, 2012 - 22:37

    Just wondering?? Are these people too obese to move their legs, away from the non-polite person, who's smoking next to them on the street? We have intelligent and not-so intelligent people living here. Maybe these obese people can politely tell this smoker that it bothers them. Or are they just gonna whistle over to an """Officer""", so they can fine them $200. I for one would be embarrassed for that cop. Obviously, he has no intention of going after a REAL criminal. How are the social assistant people going pay these fines?

    • Really?
      April 04, 2012 - 14:24

      How are Social assistance people gonna pay these fines? Maybe it should be " How can social assistance people afford to buy cigarettes?" I'm not a smoker but I hear it's a very expensive habit.

  • Leslie
    March 25, 2012 - 14:52

    I Agree With Debbie and Rose. How about the government takes a look at teen pregnancy and why Amherst has highest rate in teen pregnancy. I think the government should actually talk to everyone, and not just the 'upper class' people of Amherst to see what we think should be done and then once getting EVERYONEs opinion, then make the decision. I would LOVE to see less wait times for doctors, and more help to those who are jobless, and living penny to penny that NEED help. Who really cares about where people smoke outside? At least they take it outside! The town should be more concerned about its people instead of the money. People are more valuable than money!

  • justagirl
    March 24, 2012 - 11:27

    "Banning smoking is only revocking yet another free will choice to make," It may be your free will choice to make to smoke and harm your lungs, but it is not mine, yet I have no choice but to be exposed to it. If you choose to harm yourself by smoking then fine, but why do you get to choose to harm other people too??? I believe a person has every right to smoke/drink carry on their life how they see fit,,, but when your lifestyle is harming the lifestyle of someone else be it an adult or an innocent child,, Does FREE will stll count ?????

  • Rose
    March 23, 2012 - 09:30

    I agree with Debbie, there are alot more issues to be concerned about. All forms of government should be a democracy and not be trying to dictate to the people what they should and should not be doing. In my opinion, if you have the right connections (to government or a lobbyist) you can argue that anything is bad for individuals and bend their ears until they enforce what it is you have decided. Obesity has been on the rise for decades but because the people commenting about it does not necessarily have a large following or the ear of a government official or lobbyists, the people are left to decide for themselves on their choices of foods and whether to exercise or not. Can you picture government deciding that they want to reduce the amount of obese people and have eating establishments put scales in their facilities? In permitting people to eat there, you would step on a scale and then an employee would check a chart and decide what they are willing to feed you based on your weight. Is this what society is coming to? Give up already! People need to wake up and put an end to this dictatorship government. Elections are an amazing process but does your vote really count?

  • Debbie
    March 22, 2012 - 18:27

    I quit smoking 6 years ago but I still remember what it was like to smoke. I don't believe banning smoking is the right thing to do, why not ban pestisides, factories polluting our air, all vehicles polluting the air, some foods that have cancer causing agents, I could go on and on. Government won't ban all of them cause they know thats a lot of money, who cares about the health as long as there is revenue. They are just agreeing to teh smoking to make them look like they care a little. Banning smoking is only revocking yet another free will choice to make, soon we might as well just ask the government if we are allowed to use the washroom becuase that is what it is coming to. Everyone and anyone should be free to live the way they want to, we are only here for a short time enjoy every minute of it stop fretting over the little things.

  • Harry Cheval
    March 21, 2012 - 16:53

    Amherst wants more revenue? Make the abusers pay. Doesn't get much simpler.