Healthy Living in the North

Creating a smoke-free community

This article was co-written by Nancy Viney (tobacco reduction, Northern Health), Rhya Hartley (City of Quesnel), and the Quesnel Healthier Community Committee. It was originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of Healthier You magazine.


Poster with information about bylaw 1767

The new smoke-free bylaw was promoted through the City’s Bylaw of the Month campaign.

The City of Quesnel promotes a healthy environment for all to enjoy. In November 2015, Quesnel City Council adopted Bylaw No. 1767 “A Bylaw to Regulate Smoking in City of Quesnel Public Spaces,” which prohibits smoking in some specific community spaces as well as designated playgrounds and playing fields where children may be at play.

Quesnel joined 59 other municipalities in B.C. who have a bylaw limiting where you can use tobacco in outdoor spaces. Although many municipalities have implemented smoking regulations, Quesnel and Dawson Creek are leaders in the north.

Why a bylaw to regulate smoking?

Quesnel supports healthy community initiatives for its residents! Through integrated processes like parks planning, active transportation planning, the recently adopted Living Wage Policy, and our active rebranding project, the City of Quesnel is positioning itself as a balanced, healthy community in which to live, work, and play. The new smoke-free bylaw and the work supported by the Partnering for Healthier Communities grant fits into this approach.

Exposure to second-hand smoke from burning tobacco products causes disease and premature death among non-smokers. Children are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke as they breathe faster and are exposed to even more smoke. The new bylaw reduces the harmful effects of tobacco smoke for the residents and visitors of Quesnel.

Supportive smoke-free environments help people who have quit using tobacco to remain steadfast and also encourage tobacco users to quit. Education today on the harmful effects of smoking and second-hand smoke is key to ensuring our children don’t start smoking and helps to make everyone aware of our environment.

The bylaw also helps reduce the amount of litter from butts and discarded cigarette packaging. Cigarette filters litter the ground and do not biodegrade. During the hot, dry summer months, smoke-free bylaws can also reduce the risk of fire from discarded matches and tobacco products.

Sign reading: "Healthy lungs at play"As with any new initiative, there has been some push back and enforcement issues. To date, bylaw staff in Quesnel have addressed this with education and they will be transitioning to ticketing.

The City of Quesnel partnered with Northern Health and many other community stakeholders to form the Quesnel Healthier Community Committee in 2012. In 2016, this committee received a Partnering for Healthier Communities grant from Northern Health for their “Creating a Tobacco-Free Community” initiative. The committee resolved to use the grant funding for education and to purchase and install signage in strategic public areas. The committee decided that a sign that portrayed those most at risk from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke would move the focus to social conscience.

Have questions about smoke- and vape-free outdoor public places? Learn more from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Does your local government have a Healthier Community Committee? How can your local government work with partners towards your community’s healthy living goals?

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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Comments

  1. Gerald Schut says:

    I would like to ask if the NO SMOKING bylaw includes the use of marijuana and e-cigarettes. People I’ve spoken to claim that cigarettes are a health hazard to the smoker and also those around them. But the users of marijuana and e-cigarettes say that the exhaust from these forms of stimulation do not pose a health hazard to those around them. They also feel that the No Smoking laws only apply to cigarettes.

    Be that as it may, it is without a doubt, being downwind or in close proximity of the users of these stimulants can cause nausea and difficulties in breathing to the recipient of the secondhand exhaust of these stimulants. The stench that comes from marijuana and the putrid artificial stink of e-cigarettes is not acceptable in any public location, whatsoever.

    • Hi Gerald. Thank-you for expressing your concern.
      Smoking bylaws in B.C. prohibit the use of tobacco and vapour products outside of designated smoking areas. Currently there is not enough research to prove that e-cigarettes and other vaping products are not harmful to one’s health therefore they are included in the law. You are correct in that second hand smoke is harmful to the health of the smoker and those around them. Smoking bylaws that prohibit smoking in public spaces such as parks vary from community to community. Prince George for example, will be enforcing an outdoor smoking bylaw in May of 2017. This bylaw will include other lighted smoking equipment, hookah pipes, and other weed or substance. The city will also be enforcing the bylaw 6 meters from doorways.
      -Haylee (Health Promotions, Northern Health)

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