Hope residents will soon see stricter rules governing where they light up after council voted to move a draft smoking bylaw one step closer to adoption.
The changes would bring the district’s bylaw in line with provincial legislation and be a component in curbing the highest rate of smoking and tobacco-related illnesses in the Fraser Health region.
Under the new bylaw the definition of smoking will be enlarged to include “all products intended for inhalation, such as hookahs, marijuana and electronic smoking devices.” The one exception is the ceremonial use of tobacco during an Aboriginal cultural practice.
The bylaw will move smokers six metres away from doorways, windows and air intakes as well as covered bus stops. The previous bylaw allowed smoking 3 metres away from buildings.
Smoking will also be banned in parks, beaches, public transit stops, school property and at outdoor events except in designated areas.
Butting out through car windows and on the ground will be prohibited; both bylaw officers and RCMP can give warnings and tickets.
Mayor Wilfried Vicktor said translation would be needed for Hope’s many visitors, particularly Asian tourists.
“We may have to put these signs in a number of languages if we actually want the regulation to have some effect,” he said. “We obviously don’t want to ticket tourists coming in from China or what have you.”
Council voted to move the draft bylaw to a Jan. 22 meeting where it would go through a first reading.
“It might not lead the way in the country, but we’re glad you’re coming on board with the smoking bylaw,” Catherine Wiebe said to council.
Wiebe, Fraser Canyon hospital director and co-chair of the Hope and area healthy communities committee, previously pushed for Hope to become one of the first municipalities to have a total ban on smoking.
Council voted Monday night to bring the draft bylaw forward to a Jan. 22 council meeting, where councillors will go through three readings before adopting it.
Regulation is an important step, said executive director of Hope health services Petra Pardy, one that needs to be taken together with education and offering help to quit smoking.
Another initiative by Hope’s healthier communities committee is Hope Kicks Butts!, a quit smoking challenge starting Wednesday, Jan. 24, also known as Weedless Wednesday. Anyone 19 and older and a daily smoker in Electoral Area A, B or Hope can sign up and receive supports in the form of weekly meetings, online groups and nicotine replacement.
Twenty-two per cent of people in Hope identify as smokers, this includes both tobacco and marijuana, compared to 11 per cent in the Fraser Health region.
Hope also has the highest rates of cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other smoking-related illnesses. Mortality rates from lung cancer, chronic lung disease, respiratory and circulatory diseases are also highest in the region.