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Smokers face tighter rules

Smokers are going to have a tougher time lighting up in public in New Westminster.

On Monday, city council voted to change the city’s smoking bylaw to expand the smoke-free area around doors and windows to 7.5 metres from three metres.

They also banned smoking on outdoor patios at bars and restaurants, and anywhere within 15 metres of outdoor sports and recreation facilities. This includes playing fields, playgrounds, swimming pools and even off-leash dog areas.

A report to council said while the rules don’t go as far as some nearby cities, they exceed current provincial smoking regulations. They’re also in line with recommendations from the Fraser Health Authority.

Coun. Jonathan Coté conceded the amendments are a “bit of a compromise.”

But Coun. Jaimie McEvoy said “we need to respect our citizens who don’t smoke.”

The report examined smoking bylaws in municipalities throughout Metro Vancouver.

Nine had already extended the smoke-free area around doors, windows and air-intakes. Half of them had extended it to 7.5 metres, while half opted for six.

Outdoor patios are also smoke-free in 12 municipalities, and eight restrict smoking in parks and outdoor gathering areas. Some, like Vancouver, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey have total bans. The report said those total bans are cumbersome to enforce and could push smokers to nearby residential properties.

Other communities, like Richmond and West Vancouver, ban smoking within certain distances of outdoor gathering areas within parks.

Coun. McEvoy voiced concern about the patchwork of bylaws in the region. But bringing New West in line with its neighbours would help reduce confusion, he added.

“Almost every other community has adopted this bylaw, so right now we are the patch,” said McEvoy. “I think we need to do this.”

The report noted enforcement of the existing bylaw has been largely left to voluntary compliance, peer pressure and cooperation.

But the Fraser Health Authority will take the lead in enforcing the new regulations by issuing written notices for violations as well as providing information and signage to businesses affected by the changes.

 

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