Smoking bylaw ignites debate in Armstrong

An idea to create an outdoor smoking bylaw in Armstrong created considerable debate amongst council

An idea to create an outdoor smoking bylaw in Armstrong created considerable debate amongst council.

Representatives from Interior Health and the Canadian Cancer Society gave a power point presentation on smoke-free communities to council, stating the benefits of quitting smoking as well as the health and economic impact of banning smoking in public places.

Coun. Paul Britton made a motion to create what he called a “healthy living” bylaw that would focus on being smoke-free in public places.

“We need to start small,” said Britton. “We wouldn’t want to lump in bars and restaurants. I think we should support this initiative in a public place like the arena, outside our properties or the (IPE) fairgrounds.

“In our public places that the taxpayers pay for, we should have a bylaw.”

Three members of council were against Britton’s motion: Mayor Chris Pieper, and Couns. John Trainor and Kelly Rowe, with Trainor being the most vocal.

“We have a group coming to us who are an obvious paid dog-and-pony show sent out by IHA (Interior Health Authority) asking as to create more rules for more people because apparently we don’t have the common sense to do anything for ourselves without some government organization telling us we need to do it. It’s ridiculous,” said Trainor.

Rowe said she wouldn’t support a proposed bylaw particularly for events like Funtastic. The slo-pitch tournament is held every July long weekend with teams camping out at the IPE Fairgrounds.

“All of those people coming from out of town to camp at Funtastic, the idea of saying nobody at these events can have a cigarette on the grounds…I don’t think is reasonable,” said Rowe.

Pieper feels such a bylaw would be impossible to enforce.

“I don’t like smoking, and I’ve never smoked, but how would we police it?” said the mayor.

The presentation to council focused on outdoor areas such as trails, parks, beaches and even outdoor patios.

Britton withdrew his motion but did point out that in the presentation, there were 40 other communities around the province who have adopted similar smoke-free bylaws.

“I’d like our staff to investigate what these communities have in place and report back to us,” said Britton. “Some of these communities are pretty close to us.”

North Okanagan-Shuswap communities with a smoke-free bylaw include Lumby, Salmon Arm and Shuswap.

Council voted unanimously on a second Britton motion to research healthy living-themed bylaws along with information on regulations on smoking in and around public buildings.