No matter what you smoke or vape, changes have been made to where you can consume it in Newmarket.
While the province’s Smoke-Free Ontario Act sets out a number of rules regarding where smoking and vaping can or can’t be done, it doesn’t cover public green spaces, public trails, backyards of private residences or designated smoking areas on private property.
Town staff recently presented a draft smoking bylaw suggesting the smoking or vaping of tobacco, cannabis or other substances be banned on public property, including parks, trails and green spaces. It also noted that smoking areas can be designated to provide a specific location for those who consume should it be needed.
For example, a temporary designated smoking and vaping area can be created for a special event and would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. User fees would be charged to cover costs of designating an area, waste receptacles and more.
“Aligning a bylaw (including tobacco, vape and other substances) would address concerns of exposure to second-hand smoke and would address some of the enforcement challenges associated with determining what the substance is since all smoked and vaped products would be treated the same,” deputy town clerk Kiran Saini said. “The goal of the bylaw is to make it easy for people to comply and simple for us to educate the public on this bylaw.”
Communications would be created to make it clear to staff and the public where smoking and vaping are prohibited.
“The only way to know if it works and is enforceable is to test it out,” Saini said. “Staff is proposing to enact the bylaw and if after one year there are concerns or issues arise, staff will report back to council.”
In a survey conducted by the town, there were 352 responses by telephone and 1,157 online. Those who participated were asked about treating tobacco and cannabis, smoked or vaped, separately and whether they smoke or vape tobacco or cannabis and how frequently.
The majority of survey respondents indicated they would not want to see the smoking or vaping of tobacco and cannabis permitted in public green spaces, public trails or public gathering areas, including on sites that require a 20-metre buffer, according to the provincial rules.
However, most respondents supported permitting smoking and vaping of both substances in backyards of private residences.
While tobacco smoking and vaping in designated smoking areas on private property seems acceptable to most respondents, they don’t support the rule when it comes specifically to cannabis.
Under the provincial law, smoking and vaping aren’t allowed in public facilities and workplaces, and they can’t be done a certain distance from the door of such buildings. But the town has the authority to add its own rules.