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Advocacy, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, March 12th, 2013

Catching Big Smoke-Free Air in Whistler

by Susan Zhang, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer and SFU student.

There’s a lot to love about Whistler – amazing skiing and snowboarding, a beautiful village, scenic views, and the fact that many of Whistler’s outdoor public areas are smoke-free.

 

Whistler is a model community because of its smoking regulations that prohibit smoking near playgrounds, transit shelters and school property. For children and youth, this decreases unhealthy role modelling and de-normalizes smoking behaviour. As most smokers start before the age of 18, this can help to lower the number of people who pick up the habit in the future.

The bylaw, adopted in 2008, also prohibits smoking near sporting events, playing fields and other recreational areas. Patios of restaurants and bars are included in this ban too. Providing smoke-free outdoor public places decreases exposure to harmful second-hand smoke for everyone in the community. For Whistler businesses, to date there is no evidence of long-term negative impact on the tourism sector, including restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

So what about the rest of British Columbia? Currently, the province stipulates that there must be a smoke-free “buffer zone” of three metres around doorways, open windows, and air intakes. Otherwise, rules vary from municipality to municipality, as each is free to set their own bylaws.

Following the example of Whistler, the Canadian Cancer Society is asking for all political parties to support legislation for smoke-free outdoor public places across BC. This election, we hope to get the word out about the importance of making restaurant and bar patios, parks, beaches and playgrounds smoke-free places. Help us advocate for healthier communities – email BC’s party leaders to show your support.


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