A bylaw too far: Is Halifax’s effort to curb smoking feasible?

A bylaw too far: Is Halifax's effort to curb smoking feasible?

CTV Atlantic


Published Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:43PM ADT


Last Updated Wednesday, September 12, 2018 11:09PM ADT

A day after Halifax recommitted to one of the toughest anti-smoking bylaws in Canada, questions are still swirling about how it will be enforced and whether it can be enforced at all.

Tobacco smoking is included in a bylaw that also prohibits cannabis smoking on city property.

Some people are wondering if council’s blowing hot air.

Bill and Wendy Gray of Saint John, N.B., were enjoying a final day of vacation Wednesday as they celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary by spending a little time walking their dog Ellie in Point Pleasant Park.

Tobacco smoking is prohibited here, and soon enough, cannabis will be, too.

Watching with interest as Halifax passed its new smoking bylaw, the couple is well aware smokers everywhere often congregate in public places for a quick puff.

“Even though there are signs saying that they’re not supposed to be smoking there, there are people that do it,” Bill Gray said.

But the Nova Scotia Lung Association says that’s changing.

It, and other health groups have supported the legislation from day-one.

The CEO and president is a strong believer in the so-called “80-20 rule.”

“80 per cent of people will abide by any law that is produced and there are always going to be a few that are not going to obey that law,” said Nova Scotia Lung Association President and CEO Robert MacDonald.

Halifax is spending some serious money to deal with them.

Factoring in both cannabis and tobacco enforcement, the city expects to spend more than $3 million a year on extra officers, support workers, equipment and supervisors.

Officials are counting on fines and provincial revenue from cannabis sales to help offset the costs.

A thousand signs have already been ordered as the city prepares to designate scores of smoking areas and that may not be enough.

“I had two apartment dwellers send me notes saying, ‘well, where am I going to smoke? My building and my grounds are non-smoking, so are you going to designate a spot on the sidewalk?’” said Dartmouth Coun. Sam Austin. “I think, we’re probably going to be, when this all shakes out, we’ll probably be designating a lot of spaces next to apartment buildings.”

Austin urged his council colleagues to scrap the plan, but lost a close-vote.

So as the summer winds down, observers like Bill and Wendy Gray will watch with interest as Halifax forges ahead with its new bylaw, one of the toughest in the country.

“It’s a good move, I guess, if you can enforce it,” said Wendy Gray. “But, if you can’t enforce it, I’m not sure what good it’s going to do.”

It’s a question being asked by many, though the city seems determined to try.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.





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