Smoking ban in parks not an issue for city

Demands for a smoking ban at beaches and parks aren’t igniting any debate.

Demands for a smoking ban at beaches and parks aren’t igniting any debate.

Vernon council received a letter from the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the B.C. Lung Association calling for smoke-free outdoor public places. However, council didn’t discuss the matter.

“For myself, I respect that second-hand smoke has health implications, but it’s not an issue at this time that we need to place as a priority,” said Coun. Buffy Baumbrough when asked why no action was taken.

Coun. Jack Gilroy also didn’t believe the city should wade into the issue.

“It would be nice to stop cigarette butts on the beaches but people have civil rights,” he said.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, which oversees parks and recreation facilities, has considered a smoking ban before but no policy has been initiated.

In their letter, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Lung Association indicate that second-hand smoke is responsible for cancer, coronary heart disease and respiratory illnesses like asthma.

“Children in particular are more susceptible to these health problems associated with exposure to second-hand smoke since their lungs and respiratory systems are not yet fully developed,” the letter states.

“As such, banning smoking in places where children play, such as parks, playgrounds and beaches, is of even greater importance.”

The agencies also believe cigarette butts present a health and environmental risk.

“This litter may pose a potential fire hazard, especially in periods of dry weather,” states the letter.

“Cigarette filters do not break down easily, resulting in costly clean-up of this litter on a routine basis.”

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe believes the matter could come back at another time with information coming from city staff.

“It’s an issue because people are concerned about second-hand smoke. But there are a lot of spaces already that are smoke-free. We also need to be careful not to limit the few rights smokers have left.”