LETHBRIDGE - At the August 7, 2018 Lethbridge City Council meeting, Action on Health and Smoking Executive Director Les Hagen asked council to consider bylaws to not only restrict cannabis consumption when it becomes legal October 17, but also to restrict smoking and vaping in public areas.
A similar request was heard once again at Monday's (August 20) council meeting. This time, a presentation was made by Lethbridge citizen and environmental advocate Julius Varga.
Varga asked council to consider approving the installation of no-smoking signage in parks and other public spaces, especially around playgrounds, along with adding more bylaw enforcement.
"My goal was really to raise awareness about the lack of protection regarding second- hand smoke in public parks."
Varga says "no smoking" signs have been installed in more than 100 municipalities across the country and that Lethbridge should follow that example.
And while he says people have the right to their habits in certain circumstances, those who don't partake in those habits also have rights.
"You're welcome to go to the park. We all go to the park to walk and to enjoy outdoor activity. But please leave the smoking away from the children...I think the majority of people understand the difference between doing a habit that has adverse effects on others, or just being present."
Councillor Rob Miyashiro questioned the veracity of some of Varga's presentation statements, especially those about smoking or vaping in public areas like parks potentially causing harm.
"You're quoting the current disease prevention survey from 2016. It's an opinion survey. It's not based in science. It's just what people in Alberta might want. There's no recognition of the effects of second hand smoke on people in an enclosed space versus an open space from five metres away, is there?"
Varga responded by telling Miyashiro that he needed to do more research, but that anecdotally, he considered smoke from that distance to be unsafe.
There were also questions from Mayor Chris Spearman about whether the issue was provincial in nature, rather than municipal and how the city would enforce any bylaws.
City administration also told council that smoking complaints in public spaces weren't very common, but that littering complaints including cigarette butts tossed aside, were more common.
The information was received by council and filed.
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