Mixed reaction to Halifax's smoking bylaw: some love it, but some are fuming
Published Thursday, July 19, 2018 8:26PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, July 20, 2018 7:33AM ADT
Reaction to Halifax Regional Council’s decision to restrict any kind of smoking on municipal property -- including streets and sidewalks -- is coming in fast.
While some are applauding the move, others call it an infringement of their rights.
Senji Boubnov is an ex-smoker turned vaper who's fuming about the city's new bylaw changes.
“If I get fined, I'm not paying the fine,” Boubnov said.
He’s so mad, he's launched a Facebook group and is organizing a smokers’ protest against the city's decision.
“We pay the taxes, we completely financially support them,” he said. “The fact that they do this to us is completely ridiculous, and I will have to leave Halifax if this gets passed; I can’t live here.”
The bylaw changes passed Tuesday mean there will be no smoking or vaping on municipal property unless there is permission to do so.
That includes sidewalks, streets, parks, and city squares like Grand Parade.
It all started over council's concerns with the impending legalization of non-medical cannabis, but the ban covers not just marijuana, but tobacco, too.
The city says it's not banning smoking entirely.
“The CAO has the option to put up signs anywhere he wants on municipal property that would then signify that you can smoke in this area,” said city spokesman Brendan Elliott.
It means instead of seeing no-smoking signs, you would see designated smoking-area signs that would allow smoking within likely a five-metre area.
“This is a drastic change,” Elliott says. “We're having to completely change the way that smokers think about where they can smoke.”
It’s a change applauded by Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“We need to maintain and strengthen this non-smoking environment as the cultural norm, as a key component of protecting our young people from ever engaging in smoking behavior,” said Dr. Robert Strang.
For the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, it's an example it would like other municipalities to follow.
“The majority of Nova Scotians do not smoke and do not smoke cannabis,” said Robert MacDonald of the Lung Association.“Each and every day we see the toll that second-hand smoke has taken on Nova Scotians and their health, whether it's COPD or lung cancer,” said MacDonald. “Not only that, it can be a trigger of other lung issues such as asthma, so we know what these people have dealt with.”
But Debbie Stultz-Giffin of the Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana Society argues it’s not helpful for people who rely on medical cannabis.
“Many patients are now living in rental units that will now disallow cannabis consumption,” said Stultz-Giffin.“And if they can’t consume cannabis on a sidewalk, the Smoke-Free Places Act doesn't allow in parks or your vehicle, so what the heck does that leave? Nothing.”
She expects the ban will be challenged in court by medical marijuana users.
The city plans to hire eight more bylaw officers when it comes to enforcement, not only to ticket people, it says, but to educate them as well.
It says the new bylaws will be in place at least a few weeks before the legalization of recreational cannabis use in Canada on Oct. 17.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.