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City of Airdrie to review smoking bylaw

After a presentation from the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) during a regular council meeting Nov. 15, the City of Airdrie plans to review its smoking bylaw to see if necessary changes can be implemented.
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The City of Airdrie will look to review its smoking bylaw after a presentation was made during a regular council meeting held Nov. 15.

After a presentation from the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) during the regular council meeting Nov. 15, the City of Airdrie is planning to review its smoking bylaw to see if necessary changes can be implemented.

“Tobacco use places an enormous burden on our health, and on our quality of life,” said Les Hagen, executive director of ASH during the council meeting. “It’s responsible for countless diseases and kills 50,000 Canadians annually, representing 20 per cent of all deaths in Canada.”

According to Hagen’s presentation, one in two long-term smokers die prematurely due to illnesses caused by tobacco use. He claimed there has been an “explosive rise” in nicotine vaping, particularly among teenagers, in recent years, citing a statistic that more than 400,000 youth in grades 6 to 11 had vaped in the last 30 days of 2019.

In terms of youth who vape, Hagen said they are three times more likely than non-vaping youth to start smoking tobacco.

The statistics mentioned provided a background for Hagen’s call to have the City of Airdrie’s smoking bylaw reviewed to ensure all areas are covered by the legislation, especially with the rise in youth vaping and the 2018 legalization of recreational cannabis.

“Over the years, Airdrie has been a leader in reducing public smoking and vaping, and in fact, had one of the strongest laws in the province in the mid-2000s,” he said. “We encourage council to update the current smoking bylaw to ensure restrictions on smoking and vaping of tobacco and nicotine align with local restrictions on the smoking and vaping of cannabis.”

During Hagen’s presentation, he said one provision council should consider is what he called the cigar lounge loophole created by the Province, adding the loophole can be dealt with on a municipal level.

“We encourage your council to improve the bylaw to ensure this loophole is closed, at least at the municipal level,” he said.

An ASH model was also presented, laying the groundwork for what the organization thinks is the best approach to modernizing Airdrie’s smoking bylaw. The framework included the banning of smoking and vaping at all outdoor recreation spaces, smoke-free public events, smoke-free hotels, and to align restrictions across all forms of smoking.

On the cigar lounge topic, Coun. Al Jones noted the City’s bylaw is centred around smoking as a whole, not just for tobacco, which he said would stop someone from being able to open an establishment like that locally.

“The only thing I see missing from ours to cover everything would be the vaping,” he said. “I think everything else, we already do.”

Coun. Ron Chapman agreed with Hagen, saying maybe it is time for a review of the City’s smoking bylaw.

“Things have changed over the years since that bylaw was written,” he said.

A motion was passed unanimously to direct administration to conduct a review of the bylaw, which will be discussed at a later date.

Jordan Stricker, AirdrieToday.com
Follow me on Twitter @jaystrickz

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