WINDSOR, N.S. – Windsor council has approved amending its smoking bylaw, expanding non-smoking areas to encompass essentially all public spaces in town – including sidewalks and streets.
All members of council passed the amendment unanimously following a public hearing on Nov. 27.
The existing bylaw, Protection from Second Hand Smoke, was originally enacted in 2009, which banned smoking on public parks, outdoor recreational property or along a parade route.
Council directed staff to amend the bylaw to apply to any town property, public street or sidewalk in July of this year.
The amendment also includes the prohibition of cannabis and vaping as part of the updated bylaw.
The town received two written submissions in favour of the amended bylaw from Smoke Free Kings, a community organization, and from the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Doctor Jessica Jackman, a public health physician, spoke in favour of the amended bylaw during the public hearing.
“We want to encourage and support smoking cessation and shift societal attitudes, such that the acceptability of smoking is reduced,” Jackman said. “Smoking is a threat to public health, tobacco use is a leading cause of disease and death in Canada.”
Jackman said smoking rates have declined significantly since 1999, however, Nova Scotia maintains the second-highest rate of smoking in the country.
She also said that e-cigarette, or vaping use, among young people in Nova Scotia, is on the rise.
“E-cigarettes have the potential to re-normalize cigarette smoking, delay or prevent smoking cessation and increase youth initiation,” she said.
There no written or in-person presentations opposed to the bylaw.
Council agreed that enforcement should initially focus on educating the public on the new bylaws – with fines to come in the new year.
The fine is relatively steep; $250 for the first offence and $500 for the second.
Mayor Anna Allen said the bylaw officer and RCMP will likely use discretion for first-time offenders, but leniency will not be given to repeat offenders.
“I’m not concerned about enforcement,” Allan said. “I remember when they stopped it in bars and restaurants, and business owners initially were worried, saying they’d have to close their doors, but people got used to that.”
“The health issues around smoking are so evident today, that it’s pretty hard to debate or argue against doing this,” she said. “Nobody came out in opposition to it today.”
Allen said council may consider establishing designated smoking areas in the future, but there are no plans as of yet.
“Some businesses in town allow people to use their parking lots because they own that land,” she said. “If we run into great challenges with this, we’ll have to look at other solutions.”
Town staff will return with a report on how signage should be applied around town to educate people on the new rules.
New pawnbrokers bylaw
Council also unanimously passed a new pawnbrokers bylaw, bylaw 45.
Chief Administrative Officer Louis Coutinho said the need for the bylaw was identified by the RCMP earlier this year in their latest business plan.
The bylaw requires pawnbrokers to record all transactions by pawn or purchase and gives members of the RCMP access to all pawn purchases via a register of pledges.
“These changes protect both the pawnbroker as well as those dealing with the pawnbroker,” Coutinho said. “The public has an interest in knowing that when they purchase items from these businesses that they’ve been obtained legally.”
There were no oral or written submissions in favour or opposed to the bylaw, although Kamile Chater, the sole pawnbroker in town was in attendance and commented that he was in favour of this new measure, adding that the language of the bylaw had been simplified and streamlined.
The new bylaw will take effect once it’s advertised publicly and receives approval from the minister of municipal affairs.
Jurisdictions across Canada are enacting similar bylaws on pawnbrokers.
Editor's note - a previous version of this story referred to the public health physician as Doctor Jessica Jasmine, her name is actually Jessica Jackman. We regret the error.