Vote on smoking bans for Vancouver parks and beaches expected February 1

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      There’s a good chance that Dr. Stuart Kreisman will enjoy the seawall and beaches of Stanley Park quite soon without inhaling secondhand cigarette smoke.

      Kreisman, a doctor and endocrinologist with St. Paul’s Hospital, likes to jog, bike, and in-line skate at any time of the year in the park, and he’s not happy having smokers around puffing away.

      “I find it to be bothersome and inappropriate that individuals who are looking for healthy time on the beaches end up breathing in somebody else’s secondhand smoke,” Kreisman told the Straight. “The excuse that this is outdoors doesn’t cut it.”

      Kreisman has been working with the staff of the Vancouver park board on a smoking ban on the city’s parks, beaches, and trails, and it looks like some form of prohibition will soon be in place.

      Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Raj Hundal told the Straight that the board is expected to take up on February 1 a staff recommendation on how to deal with smoking in the city’s park system.

      Hundal recalled that staff conducted a survey last year about this issue, and respondents overwhelmingly supported the idea of a smoking regulation.

      He clarified that the measure might not be a total ban but rather may involve the establishment of smoke-free zones.

      “This is coming up for discussion,” Hundal said when asked how large the zones would be.

      The park commissioner noted that the city would not be the first to deal with smoking in public parks. He said that the City of White Rock, City of West Vancouver, and the District of North Vancouver all have smoke-free beaches, playgrounds, and playing fields.

      Many members of the previous park board have said that they wanted to ban smoking but they failed to follow through on this matter.

      The smokers’ rights group MyChoice.ca doesn’t have a B.C. talking head, but its Quebec-based spokesperson Arminda Mota spoke to the Straight by phone about this potential move by the Vancouver park board.

      “My short comment would be, when will the craziness stop?” Mota asked.

      According to her, the anti-smoking movement has accomplished very little in reducing the smoking rate in the country.

      “The more aggressive the anti-smokers get, the less people quit,” Mota said. “There is a hardcore of about 20 percent of the population, which is exactly five million adults in Canada right now.”

      Mota noted that smoking is already banned in a lot of places. “My question is, how come they don’t ban it [cigarettes] period?” she said. “Take it off the market if it’s too bad for us.”

      Mota said that it’s a fact that smoking is bad for health. But she also noted that “bullying” and making smokers feel guilty “doesn’t help”. She said that education is an effective way of reducing smoking.

      Kreisman believes in a more robust intervention.

      “The less places people can smoke, the less likely they are to smoke,” Kreisman said. “We don’t want young kids on the beach looking at a whole bunch of teenagers smoking, and saying, ”˜Look how cool they are.’”

      Kreisman added, “People who start smoking don’t start as adults. They start as children. Ninety percent of smokers start before the age of 18.”

      Comments

      19 Comments

      Smell Ya Later

      Jan 19, 2010 at 4:10pm

      That makes my day! I can't stand going to the beach in the summer because smokers use the sand for a giant ashtray, gross. After the fireworks English Bay is a sea of cigarette butts. It's always the selfish few who ruin things for everyone else like drunks and druggies.

      11 5Rating: +6

      asp

      Jan 19, 2010 at 11:14pm

      This is not an issue with second hand smoke being dangerous to anyones health, it seems to be about removing smokers from the sight of impressionable teenagers and about the litter of non-biodegradable filters.

      Me thinks there are more productive ways to address these concerns. I don't see the need to get pushy.

      9 5Rating: +4

      Yes to Clean Air for Our Parks and Beaches

      Jan 19, 2010 at 11:21pm

      Mota just made a great suggestion re: "Take it (cigarettes) off the market if it's too bad for us"....have to say that's one point I totally agree with her!

      5 5Rating: 0

      Johnny Quest

      Jan 20, 2010 at 11:45am

      More rules, more regulations, more whining. I think the level of anti-smoking laws is ridiculous and I don't even smoke. Whatever happened to be and let be? It's funny how Vancouverites love to believe in the ideal that we are a free and progressive society when in actual fact we live in an extremely repressive city that seeks to eradicate anything deemed to be a nuisance by a small but vocal portion of residents. This city is being ruined by a bunch of whiners intent on purging it of anyone who doesn't fit their ideal of perfection. Get over yourselves, as long as someone isn't physically hurting anyone, they should be allowed to do whatever they bloody well want. Soon this city is going to be filled with a bunch of soulless drones who are at the epitome of health but are boring as all hell. Less rules! More freedom! It's amazing what humans are capable of when their every thought and movement is not dictated by some draconian city ordinance.

      11 4Rating: +7

      response to asp

      Jan 20, 2010 at 12:32pm

      actually it is also a health issue, with even short term exposure to secondhand smoke (even outdoors) potentially dangerous to individuals with asthma, and heart disease, and to pregnant women and young children, and could even, in theory, cause cancer in anyone. Check out Health Canada's website, or the Surgeon General's report for further info.

      4 6Rating: -2

      Shanon

      Jan 20, 2010 at 12:34pm

      This is ridiculous. I find this to be absurd. George Orwell was off the mark a bit, as we've seemed to run into Big Mother, not Big Brother.

      I'm all fine if the government wants to make cigarettes illegal; chances are really high that people would quit if they couldn't buy them. That won't happen however, as everyone enjoys the obscene amounts of taxes that smokers generate. Everyone know cigarettes are bad for you; the photos of the dying babies on the packages make that fairly clear.

      If you want clean beaches, install ashtrays. If you want people to stop smoking, stop selling cigarettes. Until then, leave the smokers alone.

      8 6Rating: +2

      asp

      Jan 20, 2010 at 6:08pm

      I read the US surgeon generals report. It says that because secondhand smoke contains dangerous chemicals, it is dangerous to everyone on even the smallest amounts.

      Our bodies are capable of defending us from small levels of toxins. We are exposed to small amounts of dangerous chemicals everyday in our lives. Secondhand smoke is no more dangerous then the invisible exhaust of a million automobiles.

      6 9Rating: -3

      smoker

      Jan 20, 2010 at 8:24pm

      If I'm outside anywhere - I will smoke. Screw the rules.

      5 5Rating: 0

      Errol Povah

      Jan 21, 2010 at 9:50am

      Once again, I wish I had the time or the energy to respond to all of the stupid comments from those who oppose the smoking ban but, for the most part, I'll focus on those of "Johnny Quest", whose eloquence is exceeded only by his severely-flawed rationale.

      Like the bar and pub associations before him, who predicted massive layoffs (in fact, there were ZERO!) and business failures (fact: ZERO!) as a result of the smoking bans brought in about 10 years ago, Johnny is now suggesting that there is some link between the extent to which smoking is permitted or not permitted...and having fun or being bored, respectively. Like the bar and pub Neanderthals, Johnny clearly believes 'THE SKY WILL FALL' if smoking is banned in parks and on beaches.

      Note to self, Johnny: The sky didn't fall 10 years ago and...well, I'll let you figure the rest out.

      While condoning smoking anywhere and everywhere, Johnny proudly tells the world, "...and I don't even smoke." Sort of like condoning drinking and driving, then saying, "...and I don't even drink!" And, for the record, most tobacco executives don't smoke either...and they sure as hell don't want their own kids to smoke, but everybody else's kids -- especially those in Third World countries -- are 'fair game' as far as they're concerned!

      It never ceases to amaze me how some people minimize -- and even trivialize -- a product that kills 47,000 Canadians, each and every year. It's a leading cause of forest fires (and a huge threat to Stanley Park every summer)...and the leading form of litter, by far! And Johnny calls it "a nuisance"???

      But the real 'highlight' of Johnny's little missive is his use of the word "freedom".

      The only logical response to anyone who [AB]uses the word "freedom" while condoning smoking in any public place or workplace, indoors or outdoors, is laughter. Just in case you didn't know it, Johnny, nicotine is the most addictive drug known...and addiction eliminates 'freedom'.

      I would be remiss if I didn't say a word or two about Arminda Mota, the head of a (tobacco industry-funded) so-called "smokers' rights" group called MyChoice.ca.

      First, what I said about "freedom", above, also applies to "choice".

      And finally, at least 2 or 3 times over the years, I've challenged Mota to debate any and all tobacco issues...and, like the 'snakes in the grass' at the tobacco industry who she so proudly represents, she refuses.

      Get out there and enjoy all that secondhand smoke while you can, Johnny; it's days are numbered!

      8 4Rating: +4

      smell a rat

      Jan 21, 2010 at 12:18pm

      The problem here is the failure to recognize the problem!

      Pick up your cigarette butts - or face a littering fine
      We already have enough laws for that!

      And stop creating new laws when the old one would do just fine with a little enforcement!

      5 7Rating: -2