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Kamloops News

BEPPLE: Kamloops needs to learn to butt out

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
June 17, 2016 - 8:15 AM



Vancouver banned smoking in all its parks and beaches in 2010. There’s no smoking in Whistler parks either since 2008. There hasn’t been smoking in Kelowna parks and beaches since 2011. These cities host top notch festivals and attract people from around the world.

When Kamloops finally put a smoking ban in place for its city parks last year, they were just catching up to what other cities have been doing for years. No smoking in public places is the new norm. 

When the Rotary clubs requested that smoking be allowed in the beer gardens at Ribfest, I was certain the council would turn them down. So I was very surprised and disappointed Kamloops City Council agreed to waive the smoking bylaw for Ribfest

You can’t smoke on a plane, a bus or a train. You can’t smoke in restaurants or pubs. There is no smoking at ice hockey games or baseball games. There’s no smoking in theatres.

And for the last few months in Kamloops, there was no smoking at city parks.

But now, to accommodate smokers, smoking will again be allowed at Riverside Park in the beer gardens at Ribfest. How disappointing.

There was a time when there was smoking almost everywhere. I shared an office with a smoker. There was smoking at company meetings. On buses, trains and planes. There wasn’t a pub that wasn’t filled with a blue haze, as were most restaurants.

Smoking was so much the norm that my Brownie leader smoked during our Brownie meetings. Think of the outrage if a Brownie or Cub Scout leader tried that now.

People didn’t think twice about smoking, and there were few restrictions where it could happen.

Smoking was banned because people spoke out about the harms of smoking, because people saw the benefits of restricting where people could smoke. There was concern about the effects of second hand smoke.

In 1965, almost half of adult Canadians smoked. By 1985, it was about 34 per cent. Now, in B.C., it’s 14 per cent. By banning smoking in more and more places, fewer people choose to smoke. We all benefit from fewer smokers as we become a healthier community.

The argument by the Rotary was that smokers would have to leave the park to smoke.

Perhaps. But that could be said for smokers who go to a Blazers hockey game, or go to an event at Hillside Stadium.

Maybe they would leave the park to smoke. Or, like all the other places they go where smoking is banned, they might wait until later.

Banning smoking is at its core an inconvenience to smokers. Not allowing smoking benefits the non-smokers. But it also gives smokers another reason to quit or smoke less.

Restricting smoking has resulted in a dramatic drop in smokers.

I don’t agree with allowing smokers to smoke at Ribfest. Drink beer, eat ribs, but if you need to smoke step outside the park. Kamloops parks should remain smoke free.

— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.

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