Archive for the 'nicotine addiction' category

time vs. attention

September 1, 2007

It never ceases to amaze me how many people assume that the amount of attention an issue gets in the news reflects the amount of time I spend on it. Read on »

tobacco control in other local cities

December 15, 2006

Last week, a meeting was held with health advocates and officials from throughout the Lower Mainland and around the province. The following are notes I made during the meeting.

• The City of Vancouver might consider a patio ban this coming spring.

• Whistler is looking to outdoor smoking bans – currently at council briefing level. There is already no smoking permitted anywhere on the mountain.

• Abbotsford Parks & Rec Commission has recommended entrance bans for recreation facilities.

• A Capital Region District committee already working on smoke-free patios. They are reviewing the consultation process on the issue. There is worry that this review might be a delaying tactic. They are now looking for three public hearings in different areas rather than just the one originally planned.

• In Quesnel, there is an Interior/Kootney coalition of cities and health agencies working towards outdoor smoking bans. Quesnel has a health committee. Smoking issues were brought to council from that committee.

• Surrey is looking to create ‘family friendly’ zones at rec facilities. Smoking is one activity which would be deemed not-in-keeping with a family environment.

• Richmond Council has asked for a report on smoking free patios, entryways, and other outdoor areas.

• Fraser Health Authority is bringing forward a policy on smoking to their executive in late December.

• There is an Ottawa study which shows just as much smoke on patios as indoors – it does not dissipate as quickly or easily as commonly believed.

• There is interesting and possibly helpful advice on the “Social Marketing” website under the title “fostering sustainable behaviour”.

• Most provinces have ‘zero display’ rules for tobacco sales.

• Opposite the persistent myth, smoking rates are actually increasing among young adults in BC, not decreasing.

• Creating tobacco-free Sport Zones might be the most effective way to restrict smoking in parks.

• Preventing “infiltration of smoke into indoor spaces” might be the best approach for restricting smoking outside of public buildings.

• When indoor smoking was given a transition period in Vancouver, it served only as a delay tactic by the industry.

• Vancouver Coastal Health Authority drafted a report on smoke-free spaces for Vancouver. VCH has a contract with Vancouver to advise on bylaw changes for health.

Some of my comments were that, in order for any proposed outdoor smoking restrictions to be respected, there must be greater awareness on the nature of smoke outdoors. Since people already understand the health impacts and have become less tolerant of indoor smoke, there would likely already be support for efforts to prevent smoke from getting indoors.

Also, whenever there is talk of outdoor smoking, it seems to gravitate towards restaurant patios. But focusing on patios just makes enemies. Working on other areas would likely be more constructive and productive. Patios should be revisited in the future following success in other spaces.

clean-air entranceways

November 16, 2006

To assist with drafting an amendment to White Rock’s Smoking Regulation Bylaw, I have compiled information and examples from these jurisdictions with regulations on smoking within close proximity to building entrances: Delta, BC; Airdrie, AB; Beaumont, AB; Camrose, AB; St. Albert, AB; Stettler, AB; Strathcona, AB; Huron Shores, ON; Sioux Lookout, ON; State of California; Philadelphia, PA; Santa Fe, NM; Normal, IL.

I have no doubt that this list is not exhaustive. There are likely many other examples throughout North America. However, these are those I have found to date which have their legislation available on the Internet. Unless it would be of further assistance, I do not plan on researching further precedent legislation as I presume these form a sufficient body of reference.

Considering the material I have found and am presenting here, I suggest that the distance for White Rock’s amendment be a minimum of 6m(19.7ft). This would not be unusual in the context of the examples cited below (including the entire State of California) and is supported by scientific evidence currently available.


Regulations in each of these jurisdictions have sections regarding signage. However, none require anything more than a sign posted at the entrance. Most had criteria for the size, but not distance of placement from the entrance. Most stipulated certain text and a standard symbol.


Most regulations included sections on ashtrays. It appears standard, not that ashtrays be required, but that they simply not be located (or that they be removed from) within the area designated smoke-free.


Outdoor environmental tobacco smoke has not been extensively studied, as has indoor smoke. A report titled Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Indoor and Outdoor Public Places from the Provincial Health Services Authority in Vancouver BC, June 8 2006, references two studies. This is an excerpt from the conclusion of an unpublished study by James Repace, MSc.

Smoke levels do not approach background levels for fine particles or carcinogens until about 7 meters or 23 feet from the source. Therefore it makes sense to post signs warning smokers not to smoke closer than about 20 feet from building entrances, and to place ashtrays at that distance and no closer. Moreover, because some persons suffer from severe asthma, and secondhand smoke is a known asthmatic trigger, this is another good reason to keep smokers from congregating closer to building entrances than 20 feet.

In the following examples, the radius from an entranceway designated smoke-free ranges from 2m(6.6ft) to 10m(32.8ft) — the shortest distance being in Sioux Lookout ON and the greatest in Delta BC. Most simply state that smoking is prohibited from within a certain distance from an entrance or exit. Delta BC, Santa Fe NM, and the State of California treat the area outside of vents and windows the same as they do doors. The intention seems to be, not just to prevent unwanted exposure to tobacco smoke for people accessing the buildings, but also to prevent smoke from entering the building.

Delta, BC — 2006
There have been media reports of outdoor smoke-free zones being established in Delta. But it seems the only information available is a report to Council from the Chairs of the Parks and Fields Committee, and Civic Properties and Buildings Committee dated August 25, 2006. My understanding is that their recommendation was adopted but I was unable to find any resulting regulation or bylaw at this time. These are the paragraphs that seem most relevant to White Rock’s requested bylaw amendment:

RECOMMENDATION: That establishment of smoke-free zones for exterior areas of municipal facilities and parks, where the public must pass to enter a building, a ventilation system draws air into the building, or where the public tend to congregate to participate or view regularly scheduled events.

Identifying locations that should be smoke-free is a relatively easy task. A distance of approximately 30 feet (10 metres) from access points to buildings, from windows that open, where people congregate, playgrounds, sport field bleachers, directly behind backstops and players benches are the most likely areas. Communication of the smoke-free zone is proposed by way of signage and painting on the walkways leading into the buildings.

Establishment of smoke-free zones would mean that employees who smoke would also be asked to follow the same practice. Relocation of ashtrays to areas further away from the building entries may be necessary. It is suggested smoke-free zones be established at recreation centres, park facilities, and the front entrance to municipal hall, as they are locations where public use is most concentrated.


Airdrie, AB — 2004, 2006
3.1 …the following are Designated Public Places for the purposes of this bylaw:
a) Public Buildings and those areas within 3m of an entrance or exit to a Public Building;
b) City Buildings and those areas within 3m of an entrance or exit to a City Building;
d) Workplaces and those areas within 3m of an entrance or exit to a Workplace.
3.2 No person shall Smoke in a Designated Public Place, whether or not a ‘No Smoking’ sign in posted or visible.

Beaumont, AB — 2003
2.14 “Public Building” means any enclosed building or structure to which the public can and does have access by right or by invitation
2.19 “Town Building” means any building owned, leased, operated or occupied by the Town;
4.1 …the following are Designated Public Places for the purposes of this bylaw:
a) Public Buildings and those areas within 6m of an entrance or exit to a Public Building;
b) Town Buildings and those areas within 6m of an entrance or exit to a Town Building;
c) Public Transportation Vehicle Shelters; and,
d) Workplaces and those areas within 6m of an entrance or exit to a Workplace.
4.3 No person shall smoke in a Designated Public Place, whether or not a “No Smoking” sign is posted or visible.

Camrose, AB — 2003
201 (2) Except when on a public sidewalk, no person shall carry or possess a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe, or burn tobacco in any manner within three (3) metres of an entrance or exit to a public premises.
(4) No person shall provide services or allow services to be provided to any person who is carrying or possesses a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe in an area or premises in which smoking is provided by this By-Law.

St. Albert, AB — 2004
2. (a) “Building” means a fully or substantially enclosed structure constructed such that it may accommodate human occupation. A bus shelter shall be considered a building for the purposes of this Bylaw;
3. (1) Unless an exception applies under this Bylaw, no person may engage in Smoking activity:
(a) at or in any City-owned structural facility;
(b) within a Building;
(c) within 3 metres of any Building entrance or exit, except on a public sidewalk adjacent to a roadway;
(d) on the grounds of an Outdoor Public Event, except in an area reserved for motor vehicle parking;
(e) on a Patio

Stettler, AB — 2004
3.1 Subject to Section 3.2, the following are Designated Public Places for the purposes of this bylaw:
a) Public Buildings and those areas within 6m of an entrance or exit to a Public Building;
b) Town Buildings and those areas within 6m of an entrance or exit to a Town Building;
c) Public Transportation Vehicles and Public Transportation Vehicle Shelters; and
d) Workplaces and those areas within 6m of an entrance or exit to a Workplace.
3.2 No person shall Smoke in a Designated Public Place, whether or not a “No Smoking” sign is posted or visible
4.1 The proprietor and employer of every Designated Public Place shall ensure that no ashtrays are placed or allowed to remain in any Designated Public Place.
4.2 The proprietor and employer of every Designated Public Place shall, if employees or members of the public from time to time gather to smoke at a location outside the Designated Public Place, ensure that ashtrays are placed more than 6m from the entrance or exit of the Designated Public Place.

Strathcona, AB — 2006
2.2 (t) “Public Place” means all or any part of a building, structure or other enclosed area to which member of the public have access… including, …
(iii) within 3m of the main entrance or exit to a Public Place;
4.1 no Person shall smoke;
(a) in a Public Place

Huron Shores, ON — 2004
1.3 “entranceway” means the area within a 4 metre radius surrounding any public entrance to a public building or workplace, but does not include a street, road or highway;
2.1 No person shall smoke in any workplace or entranceway to any workplace within the Municipality, whether or not a No Smoking sign is posted.
3.1 No person shall smoke in any public place or entranceway to any public place within the Municipality, whether or not a No Smoking sign is posted.

Sioux Lookout, ON — 2003
2. (2) The outside area not forming part of the street, road or highway that is within two metres of an entrance to any public place as designated pursuant to Subsection 2(1) hereof is also designated as a public place for the purposes of this By-Law.
3. (1) No person shall smoke in a public place.

California (State of) — 2005
7596. (a) “Public building” means a building owned and occupied, or leased and occupied, by the state, a county, a city, a city and county, or a California Community College district.
7597. (a) No public employee or member of the public shall smoke any tobacco product inside a public building, or in an outdoor area within 20 feet of a main exit, entrance, or operable window of a public building

Philadelphia, PA — 2005
(3)(a) No person shall smoke in any of the following places
(xiii) (.7) Outdoors within ten (10) feet of any entrance to any Enclosed Area in which smoking is prohibited under this Section.

Santa Fe, NM — 2006
10-6.2 E. the city council finds and declares that the purposes of this section are
(1) to protect the public health and welfare by prohibiting smoking in public places of employment;
(2) to guarantee the right of nonsmokers to breathe smoke-free air; and
(3) to recognize that the need to breathe smoke-free air shall have priority over the desire to smoke.
10-6.7 (1) Smoking shall occur only at a distance of twenty-five (25′) feet in radius from the entrance to any enclosed area where smoking is prohibited to insure that tobacco smoke does not enter the area through entrances, windows, ventilation systems or any other means.

Normal, IL — 2006
17.6-7 Smoking is prohibited within fifteen feet of any public entrance to an area in which smoking is prohibited.
17.6-8 … the following areas shall be exempt from the provisions of Section 17.6-7.
5. Outdoor patios, except for that area of an outdoor patio within fifteen feet (15’) of a primary public entrance to an area where smoking is prohibited.


• Provincial Health Services Authority, Vancouver BC: Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Indoor and Outdoor Public Places, June 8 2006
• Repace Associates, Bowie MD: Measurements Of Outdoor Air Pollution From Secondhand Smoke On The UMBC Campus, June 1 2005
• Airdrie, AB
• Beaumont, AB
• Camrose, AB
• St. Albert, AB
• Stettler, AB
• Strathcona, AB
• Huron Shores, ON
• Sioux Lookout, ON
• Berkeley, CA
• Calabasas, CA
• State of California
• Philadelphia, PA
• Santa Fe, NM
• Normal, IL


November 14, 2006

I got a call last week from a lady who said she had been the first female School Trustee in Abbotsford 40 years ago. She had to deal with the prevailing attitude at the time that a board room was no place for a lady. Sure enough, she introduced some novel and apparently disturbing ideas. She argued that, in order to be good role models, there should be no smoking at the meeting table. She was ridiculed.

What seems ridiculous to me is that it was only one generation ago that women were believed subserviant and the convenience of a nicotine addict was more important than a school trustee being a good role model or the health of the people around them.

Thank you, Ms. Henson, for pioneering women’s civil rights and the promotion of health responsibility. 40 years later, we’re still battling the same selfish attitudes. Hopefully my grandchildren will be just as surprised with my story about how, back in 2006, people felt entitled to smoke tobacco on restaurant patios despite all the obvious risks and discomfort to everyone around them.

no mercy

November 3, 2006

Yesterday’s Province had an editorial by John Martin titled “Anti-smoking bullies have gone far enough in their regulatory jihad”

This is my reply.

As instigator of the proposed smoking ban in White Rock, Mr. Martin implies that I am a “righteous bully in a regulatory jihad”. He is correct.

I believe very strongly that every person should have the maximum degree of freedom possible. But what if one person exercising their personal freedoms impairs the freedoms of someone else?

What happens when a person who chooses to feed a nicotine addiction in public causes someone else discomfort or bodily harm? Is it righteous to choose health as a priority over drug addiction? If it is, then I am.

It sounds like the underlying assumption supporting Mr. Martin’s opinion is that smoke outdoors simply disappears: no harm, no foul. He doesn’t believe outdoor smoking is a problem. So, since a jihad is a holy war against unbelievers, then maybe that’s what this is.

As a smoking diner indulges their nicotine addiction on a patio, indeed the breeze takes their smoke away. But en route, it is carried past the faces of others and often blown into the restaurant’s open windows, doors and air vents. Perhaps Mr. Martin’s opinions would be different if he had asthma, a heart condition, or appreciated the risk to children and expectant mothers?

It is becoming better known that tobacco smoke kills over five times as many people as the sum of all car accidents, suicides, murders, and illegal drugs every year in Canada. Though historical tolerance makes us blind to it, nicotine addiction has a very serious and significant negative impact on our quality of life. Research proves smoking bans as the most effective tool for preventing exposure to smoke, and the second best for reducing smoking rates.

And so, if a bully is a person who uses power to intimidate those who are weaker, and if knowledge is power, and if confusion or lack of knowledge constitutes a weakness, then I suppose I am an unintended bully since I apparently have a greater understanding of nicotine addiction issues than Mr. Martin, who appears to be confused as to why I would want to restrict someone’s freedom to poison the air that others have to breathe.

arguing for clean air

October 30, 2006

These are the points I’m hoping I will get across clearly at tomorrow’s City Council meeting.

There are three main arguments people seem to make when resisting smoking bans:
• I have the right to do whatever I want with my body;
• it’s a legal product in Canada so the city has no business telling me I can’t smoke it; and
• if people can’t smoke on White Rock patios, they’ll just go to Surrey, which will put White Rock restaurants at a competitive disadvantage.

rights of one person should not diminish another’s
Scientific research suggests that 90% of people who smoke are addicted to nicotine. Considering that trace amount of second hand smoke has immediate health impacts on asthmatics, children, and people with heart disease, the freedoms of those people and their right to health should take precedence over appeasing a drug addiction.

legal purchase and possession does not impart unfettered legal use
Just because tobacco is legal to purchase and possess does not mean you should be able to use it in any and all places. Legal purchase does not give a right to smoke in public. It does not override others’ right to clean air.

marketing clean air should be a competitive advantage
I keep hearing that if White Rock bans smoking on patios, restaurants will lose business to Surrey patios, which will still allow smoking. My question is, which patios in Surrey would get an advantage? There are very few patios in Surrey. The only ones I can think of that are ever used are Sawbuck’s (which is essentially a smoke pit) and the two places in Crescent Beach.

I think White Rock patios are successful because of their views and location. That is their competitive advantage. Are nicotine addicts really the market that White Rock wants to cater to as a city that has a stated goal of becoming a city of health excellence? Being smoke-free should be seen as a competitive advantage, as supported by market research. Statistically valid phone polls prove that a small percentage of people will go out to restaurants less often if they can’t smoke, but more people will go out more often if they know they won’t have to breathe smoke. That means it is more likely that a ban on patio smoking would actually be good for business.

purpose of it all
The point of a patio smoking ban in White Rock should be to protect the health of the people who work in restaurants (many of whom are youth) and people who are especially sensitive to tobacco smoke – children, asthmatics, and people with heart problems. Let’s make their health a priority.

smoked economics

October 19, 2006

The fear of losing customers is so blinding for some business interests in White Rock that they seem to have lost focus on reality.

I completely understand the instinct to protect our ability to earn a living, and to defend someone else’s livelihood. What I don’t understand is how it has created fear to the point that rational thought is lost.

Over 85% of people in this area do not smoke. Statistically valid polls have concluded that this vast majority of people would visit restaurants and bars as often or more often if they were completely smoke-free. Only 4% said they would go less often. This is supported by the well-documented experience of cities all across North America. There is no evidence of negative impact from smoke-free regulations. In fact, the studies show that many places experienced an increase in business as the number of people who ate out more often outweighed the number who ate out less often.

It seems strange to me that local business advocates would cling so tightly to the status quo. Given such an overwhelming body of market research that says smoke-free bylaws are beneficial to business, neutral at worst, why are we hearing such a counter-productive stance from local restaurants?

Tobacco use is bad for our economy, locally, regionally, provincially, nationally. Is our society so addicted to short-term cash that we can’t see the long-term costs of health care and productivity losses? And in the case of our local businesses, are they so blinded by the sales generated from a small minority of smokers that they can’t see the potential of increased sales from the huge majority of non-smokers, many of whom avoid places with tobacco smoke?

When are we going to snap out of our denial of the fact that tobacco smoke is highly toxic? Despite science placing tobacco smoke beside asbestos and benzene as being poisonous even at barely detectable levels, we seem to cling to the illogical argument that tobacco is a legal product so therefore everyone should tolerate it.

I realize that a business doesn’t want to offend any potential customer so they don’t want to make their smoking customers feel unwelcome. But what they seem to be missing is that a larger number of people are offended by tobacco smoke, and that smoke makes them feel unwelcome.

Going smoke-free will be good for our economy. While I empathize with the passionate fears of those concerned about their livelihoods, all the local facts and the experience of other cities say that there is no reason to be afraid of smoke-free bylaws. In fact, the evidence suggests that economic boosters should embrace clean-air legislation.

smouldering cause

October 12, 2006

It looks like I probably won’t get where I wanted on tobacco control in White Rock. But it is looking more likely that we will be making some incremental progress… so that’s a good thing.

Yesterday, the Social Committee recommended to City Council that smoking be not permitted at the entrances to public facilities and on patios of bars and restaurants. I was hoping to have parks also be smoke-free, and wanted to have tobacco products hidden from view of minors in corner stores and pharmacies. But one member of the committee noted that society needs time to adapt and making incremental change is progress – better than where we are now. They were concerned about going further than the community is ready for and then having problems with compliance.

They stated that it is the committee’s vision that White Rock become a smoke-free city and that their recommendation should be seen as another step towards that goal. Hopefully council will share that goal and that intention.

Clean Air Calabasas

October 7, 2006

The City Council of Calabasas unanimously adopted an ordinance that declares the whole city non-smoking. Instead of listing places that are non-smoking, it lists places where smoking is allowed. The intention is to protect people from secondhand smoke.

The ordinance is very bold and innovative. It recognizes tobacco smoke as a toxic air pollutant and declares exposing someone to smoke a “public nuisance”. Smoking in open places is allowed only when there are no people close by that are not smoking. Smoking is not allowed on sidewalks. There are specific rules about where people are allowed to smoke in public. And, there are hefty fines for cigarette butt litter.

Calabasas is a suburb of Los Angeles, beside Malibu and Santa Monica.

steps to being smoke-free by 2010

These are the steps I think the City should take to becoming a smoke-free city.

2006 • patios declared smoke-free, signage at city entrances and key locations stating that White Rock will be a smoke-free city by 2010

2007 • smoking areas designated

2008 • all public places declared smoke-free – no smoking permitted anywhere in the city except in designated smoking areas

2009 • enforcement begins – up to this point the smoke-free spaces and designated smoking areas will have been recommendations

2010 • tobacco products required to be hidden from minors