Those who enjoy vaping or smoking cannabis in Stratford’s Market Square and other public spaces may soon find themselves without a place to light up.
On Monday, Stratford’s community services committee approved a list of amendments to the city’s smoking in public places bylaw that could, if passed at council, see the inclusion of cannabis and vaping. The amendments would also expand the scope of the bylaw to ban smoking within 20 metres of city recreational facilities and sporting arenas, as well as in Market Square and all city parks.
“There’s concern that new emerging products such as vapes, which are sometimes called electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, will… cause addiction in a whole new generation of users,” said Janet Jackson, a public health manager at the Perth District Health Unit.
Jackson said the health unit is supportive of the amendments – which also includes a ban on smoking in Stratford-Perth public housing — citing the health affects on both the user and on others through second-hand smoke, the potential for addiction, and the environmental impact of discarded cigarette butts.
Should the bylaw amendments pass, Jackson said the health unit would be eager to work with the city to develop a public education campaign around the changes and help enforce the new rules.
But some, like paralegal Kyle McGraw who also spoke on the amendments at Monday’s meeting, suggested the recommended changes go beyond what is required by the province’s Smoke Free Ontario Act and infringes on the rights of smokers.
“Any other overreaching or overarching protections that council is thinking about implementing I think are… prohibitive to an inclusive space that we’ve decided Market Square should be,” McGraw said.