Canada: Mixed emotions about Halifax’s new smoking laws

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The City of Halifax’s Regional Council recently announced their decision to restrict any smoking on municipal streets and sidewalks and the reactions are varied.

The decision was made following concerns about legal non-medical cannabis, but the law will also apply to tobacco as well as vaping.

While many residents and city officials are happy with the decision, others believe their rights are being infringed upon.  “If I get fined, I’m not paying the fine,” said Senji Boubnov, Halifax resident and ex-smoker turned vaper.

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“We pay the taxes, we completely financially support them. The fact that they do this to us is completely ridiculous, and I will have to leave Halifax if this gets passed; I can’t live here.”

Boubnov has even gone as far as to launch a Facebook group to arrange a protest against the city’s new rules. The city says however that smoking will not be banned entirely.

“The CAO has the option to put up signs anywhere he wants on municipal property that would then signify that you can smoke in this area,” said Brenda Elliott, City Spokesperson.

This means that there will signs located in areas specifically designated for smoking that will be allowed within a five-meter area.

“We need to maintain and strengthen this non-smoking environment as the cultural norm, as a key component of protecting our young people from ever engaging in smoking behaviour,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer.

Other health officials are also applauding the city’s decision.

“The majority of Nova Scotians do not smoke and do not smoke cannabis,” said Robert MacDonald of the Lung Association. “Each and every day we see the toll that second-hand smoke has taken on Nova Scotians and their health, Whether it’s COPD or lung cancer. Not only that, it can be a trigger of other lung issues such as asthma, so we know what these people have dealt with.”

The city has announced to hire more bylaw officers to enforce their new smoking laws which will likely be in place a few weeks before legalization takes place on October 17.

“This is a drastic change,” said Elliott. “We're having to completely change the way that smokers think about where they can smoke.”

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