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12-year-olds lighting up ignites action

March 20, 2014 - 4:42 PM

VILLAGE OF LUMBY EYES COMPREHENSIVE SMOKING BAN

LUMBY - Communities across the Interior have taken action in recent years to ban smoking in public places, but one North Okanagan community has taken efforts to a new level.

The Village of Lumby is proposing a healthy community bylaw that would forbid smoking on all municipally owned properties. That would include beaches, parks, trails, even sidewalks. Mayor Kevin Acton says it all started as a way to prevent youth from picking up the habit.

“We had three nursing students from Okanagan College come out for their practicum and they asked us what we wanted them to do,” Acton says. “We’ve been having some challenges with youth smoking in our high schools so we asked them to check that out.”

The findings only reinforced Lumby’s push for action. The research showed that most high school students who smoked took their first puff around 12 years old.

“When the nursing students asked them why they started they said because they saw somebody else doing it. They were modeling themselves after adults,” Acton says.

Over 70 per cent of teen smokers said they’d like to see a smoke-free Lumby. The Village already posts no smoking signs in areas frequented by children, like the public pool, but Acton says the ban has to be all inclusive to have a significant effect.

“Hopefully, this will reduce the amount of people that start smoking. I smoked for years and I wish I’d never started,” Acton says. “I don’t know too many people who are glad they did, and I don’t think there are too many smokers out there who would want their kids to start.”

The Canadian Cancer Society says tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in the province, killing more than 6,000 British Columbians each year. Meanwhile, the society says second hand smoke is responsible for the deaths of over 100 British Columbians annually.

The City of Kelowna implemented a smoke free parks bylaw in 2011, banishing smokers from all beaches, trails, playgrounds, sports fields and stadiums. Just last year, Penticton council voted to ban smoking on public beaches and Kamloops council is currently looking at a bylaw similar to Kelowna’s.

Some may see Lumby’s proposal as an infringement of personal rights, but Acton insists council isn’t telling people what to do, so much as telling them where to do it: out of the eyes of children.

The public will be invited to give input on the proposed bylaw in the coming months, and if successful, Acton says the changes would be phased in gradually. 

“People are concerned about rights,” Acton says. “But that can be taken as your right to have a smoke free community or not have one. It’s majority rules; if most people don’t want it (public smoking) they shouldn’t have to put up with it.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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