WINDSOR, N.S. – Windsor council is hoping to butt out smoking complaints within the town limits by increasing enforcement of bylaws that are already on the books.
A public education campaign, beginning Aug. 1, will include more active enforcement of the already active provincial statutes and town bylaws surrounding smoking.
This includes all combustibles, including tobacco, vape ‘juice’ and cannabis, which will be legalized for recreational consumption in October.
Currently, people aren’t allowed to smoke on town-owned or leased property, in parks or playgrounds, in any enclosed place, on all outdoor licensed areas and patios of all restaurants, or within four metres of windows, air intake vents and entrances to places of employment.
This includes just about all sidewalks in downtown Windsor.
One of the issues with enforcement, at least for now, is that the provincial statute is under the jurisdiction of the RCMP and the town bylaw under the bylaw officer. Council is considering giving the bylaw officer the power to handle both the provincial and town laws surrounding smoking.
Council passed a motion to modify their existing bylaw to give it more teeth and deal with the incoming legalization of cannabis.
Vaping also enforced
Kevin Murphy, owner of Vaper’s Attic in downtown Windsor, said he thinks council is doing this preemptively to discourage people from smoking cannabis in public, once legalized.
“I don’t agree with going as far as they have, unless they have safe zones set up for people to go smoke,” Murphy said. “They would be places people could go when they’re out and about and have a cigarette.”
Murphy also disagrees with vaping being lumped together with cigarettes, saying the vapour substances that are inhaled and exhaled is much safer than cigarette smoke.
“With a vapourizer, you’re just heating up food additives, with cigarettes you’re burning chemicals,” he said. “The cars driving by are much more harmful.”
But, Murphy acknowledges that essentially any substance inhaled and exhaled has been grouped into one category.
“If you’re an inconsiderate smoker, it goes the same way when you start to vape. When I smoked, if you were a non-smoker I would walk away from you. Some people don’t get that,” he said. “That’s who they’re really aiming for, those who aren’t considerate of others. But now everyone’s going to lose out and will have nowhere to smoke.”
Murphy, having been forewarned about the coming enforcement drive, measured out a 4-metre spot between doors near his business, which he has deemed a safe-zone to smoke without worrying about fines.
“It’s going to be impossible to enforce; they’re going to spend more money on man hours chasing these people down then they’ll ever get out of tickets,” he said.
“It’s limiting cannabis at the end of the day, they don’t want people walking down the street smoking a joint,” said Murphy.
“Right now everybody is more worried about limiting access than actually figuring out a way to make (cannabis) go forward once it’s legalized.”
Business owner happy
Dr. Astrid Friedrich, co-owner of WINEGRUNTS in downtown Windsor, said she’s happy to see more enforcement of the bylaw.
“We don’t want to have the smoke bothering our customers who are out on the patio,” Friedrich said. “We’d also like to be able to have the garage door open as well and not have second-hand smoke wafting in.”
She said they’ve had a few issues with smoke coming into the restaurant.
“It hasn’t been horrible, but once and a while, we’ve had to go out and ask people not to,” she said. “Generally they have been polite if I ask them to move, and they do, but it would be nice not to have to do that.”
Did you know?
In 2003, Nova Scotia’s “Smoke Free Places Act” came into effect, which essentially banned all smoking inside public buildings, including bars and restaurants.
In 2009, the Town of Windsor adopted the “Protection from Second-Hand Smoke” bylaw, which banned smoking along parade routes and other public spaces.