Councils off mark on smoking

What do local politicians consider a priority if health and the environment don’t make the list?

What do local politicians consider a priority if health and the environment don’t make the list?

On Monday, there wasn’t even a peep uttered when a request for smoke-free zones at outdoor public places went before Vernon council. The only action was to receive a letter and move on to the next agenda topic.

“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 after the meeting.

So when does second-hand smoke become an issue to address – when cancer rates climb, when children are gasping for air in a cloud of smoke?

Coun. Jack Gilroy’s argument for doing nothing was “people (smokers) have civil rights.” Gilroy’s point is valid but they don’t have the right to litter and that’s what happens every time they toss butts on the ground. That nasty habit wastes considerable resources as civic workers must clean butts up.

Now at least the issue of second-hand smoking in parks and beaches is being investigated further in Coldstream. But even there, some elected officials are off the mark.

“How can it be enforced? To make bylaws is one thing but are you actually going to start slapping people with fines?” said Mayor Jim Garlick.

But the reality is that all jurisdictions have bylaws that aren’t enforced regularly, but they are in place if required. Among them is not allowing alcohol in parks, so why would smoking be treated differently?

It is time that elected officials start taking action and doing what is right for the majority of their residents.