Article by Melanie Hennessey, Independent Free Press
Halton Region has updated its smoking bylaw to include public parks throughout the region, along with restrictions on cannabis and vaping.
The regulation was endorsed by regional council during its most recent session. Now, at least three of the local town/city councils in Halton must pass motions consenting to the bylaw for it to come into force.
The new rules stipulate that the smoking of tobacco and cannabis, along with the use of e-cigarettes/vapes, is prohibited in Halton parks and within nine metres of any entrance or exit of municipal buildings and child-care centres.
This will replace the Halton-wide smoking bylaw implemented in 2009, which only restricted cigarette smoking near municipal buildings.
“By including additional products and prohibited places in the updated regional bylaw, Halton residents will be further protected from the harms of smoking and vaping,” said Halton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani, in a report to council.
Some of the local municipalities have already implemented their own rules in this regard. Burlington passed a bylaw in 2013 that bans smoking in parks, while Oakville updated its parks bylaw last year to add cannabis smoking and vaping alongside cigarettes, which were already prohibited.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act also bars tobacco and cannabis smoking and vaping in many areas, including within 20 metres of children’s playgrounds and sports fields, along with enclosed public spaces, workplaces and restaurant patios.
Regional councillors around the table lauded the updates to Halton’s smoking regulations. Burlington Coun. Lisa Kearns said this will help protect residents from second-hand fumes from cannabis and e-cigarettes.
“It also helps to deter overall use, especially in our youth,” she noted.
Oakville Coun. Jeff Knoll, a longtime antismoking advocate, also touted the new rules.
“This is a great next step in the battle against the scourge of vaping that exists,” he said.
He encouraged his fellow councillors to “name and shame” stores in Halton that sell these products to underage youth.
Milton Coun. Zeeshan Hamid asked what can be done to target these stores.
Meghani told council about the test shopper program the health department has that sends supervised youths into stores to attempt a purchase of tobacco or vaping products.