The hot topic for the day around Niagara is a proposed by-law that would ban smoking across the region in outdoor public places. This news has come with the expected backlash, however some people may be unaware that in places around the region, such a law already exists.
The proposed idea was brought to the Region in November of last year, and included bans on smoking in public parks, playgrounds, sports fields, splash pads, bus shelters and beaches. After bringing it forward to the 12 municipalities, a change was made to allow smoking on beaches, trails and in parking lots, so long as they were 9 metres from any doors. In order for this to pass, it needs a majority vote all the way through, from the region to the municipalities to the number of voters represented. If it does pass, anyone caught smoking in the wrong place could get a fine of $250. If you think the plan sounds a little over the top, you may have missed what happened in Niagara Falls two years ago
On May 1st of 2011 the City of Niagara Falls enacted a by-law which banned smoking in all the places mentioned above, including parking lots and trails. The possible fine is $100, but as mentioned on their website, the idea is to have residents enforce the rules themselves…i.e. a mention of “Hey, can you put that out?” Any problems after that could be referred to the city. So as crazy as the idea sounds to some, it’s already in effect in the region. Welland doesn’t allow smoking where signs are posted, and Grimsby says no smoking within nine metres of publicly owned doorways (doorways to buildings I would assume.) It wouldn’t be new to these places. But would you go along with it throughout the region?
According to a survey conducted last summer, 88% of people who live here support a ban on smoking in public places. 94% of visitors to the Niagara Region support it. And 90% of people in Niagara support the existing by-law in effect in Niagara Falls. So it looks to be a no-brainer. Of course if you look to the comment sections of the local media, half of the people replying are up in arms about having their rights taken away, or “nanny state strikes again.” I understand when someone is threatening one of your rights you’ll want to defend it. That’s another reason to enjoy where we live: We can say how we feel and be counted in our opinions. The issue here is that those opposed to this idea are in the severe minority.
I agree that it’s your choice to smoke or not. I’ve stated before, do what you want and so long as it’s legal and doesn’t hurt anyone else have at it as much as you’d like. Look at drinking. If you’re 19 years old, have it it, in the proper place. That means no drinking in public places. Now think about smoking. It’s as legal as drinking at the right age, but when you’re standing on the sidelines watching your kids play soccer, do you open a bottle of beer and pour it down the throat of some stranger standing next to you? That’s where I see the difference.
Smoking around other people means second hand smoke will get to someone who chooses not to smoke. That’s the issue I have. As a grown adult, I know if I’m going to a place that allows smoking, I will get second hand smoke in my lungs. That’s my choice. But I’m with the majority on this one…if you’re smoking in a public place of gathering, head to the designated area or butt out. It’s still legal to smoke, just do it where you won’t affect others who want nothing to do with it.
Kids on a playground shouldn’t have to breathe in smoke from a stranger. If you want to smoke around your kids in your house, that’s your choice. But with immeasurable evidence that smoking is a bad for you, the less chance you have to affect people around you who want nothing to with it, the better. You’ve made your choice, and we’ve made ours. Now we’ll have to see what the Region decides.