NEWS — City council was urged today to ramp up the fight against second-hand smoke but it made no promises.
Jeff Connors of the Interior Smoke Free Coalition pointed out that Weedless Wednesday is tomorrow and said the Tournament Capital should join hundreds of other cities in North America that have passed bylaws restricting smoking in public places.
“People still see cigarettes as not a drug.”
Aside from negative health impacts, cigarette smoking is a major litter problem, he said. Connor said that, ideally, even smoking by people walking from one building to another should be restricted.
Coun. Arjun Singh noted the number of smokers who step outside during Blazers games to have a cigarette and pointed out it’s a legal activity. “This is kind of an outright ban you’re asking for.”
Connors said outdoor cigarette smoke can sometimes be as unhealthy as it is indoors.
“You’re suggesting they wait until they get home,” Mayor Peter Milobar said of employees at work.
Every employee who smokes costs the employer about $3,000 a year, Connor replied.
Coun. Pat Wallace asked about people with an illness that use medical marijuana.
Connor said variances could make exceptions for medical situations.
“We’re doing a lot of dictating of what people can do and I just think there are a lot of exceptions,” Wallace said.
No-smoking areas are designated as operation policy within the parks bylaw. “Technically speaking under the parks bylaw it could carry a ticket,” parks, recreation and culture director Byron McCorkell said, but policing is “not aggressive.”
“We don’t actively go out and ticket people for smoking.”
Playgrounds and other public facilities are signed, he said.
A motion by Coun. Ken Christian that parks and rec staff look at “the state of bylaws within the recreation industry” was passed.
Awareness is the “strongest thing we have to reduce this issue,” said Coun. Donovan Cavers.
“Let’s take the next step,” Coun. Tina Lange said. “It’s going to come anyway.”
Milobar said signage is working. “I wonder just what we’re going to accomplish that we’re not already accomplishing.” Fines wouldn’t do much good, he said.
“I think we are already there as a community.”
“I don’t support a Draconian approach,” agreed Coun. Marg Spina. “We need a balanced approach.”