Smokers are, in general terms, their own worst enemies and are finding themselves pushed out of more and more public — and even not-so-public — spaces.
While the top issue for anti-smoking types is health concerns, litter plays a big role in our perception of smokers. There are few other segments of society where it’s deemed acceptable to cast off trash, in this case cigarette butts, at random. The ick factor certainly plays a large role in non-smokers’ reaction to the habit and where they want it — or don’t want it — to happen.
Citing the health concerns association with second hand smoke, the Capital Regional District enacted a Clean Air bylaw in 1996 that regulates tobacco smoke in the environment. It’s essentially a document that bans smoking in a variety of public places. This is on top of province-wide smoking bans in indoor public spaces and in the workplace.
Saanich Peninsula communities — Sidney included — adopted the CRD’s Clean Air bylaw and are now being asked whether they support changes that will significantly expand buffer zones between where people can and cannot smoke. An existing three meter buffer will grow to seven meters and in Sidney, for example, that will apply to downtown commercial buildings. In essence, that would mean the only place for smokers to smoke, will be in the middle of Beacon Avenue — unless the seven meter buffers overlap.
This is, in essence, going to be a total ban on smoking along Beacon Avenue. Throw in all Town parks, fields, beaches, walkways, wharves and piers and there are few, if any, public places left to smoke in public in Sidney.
Call it a little extra encouragement for people to give up the habit, say some of the town councillors, as people are now pretty well confined to their own homes and yards if they want to smoke.
Call it draconian or just going too far if you like. It’s a reaction to the health issues associated with smoking and society’s turning away from a habit that impacts everyone in its vicinity. Is expanding the ban is a good idea? Will it force some folks to seriously consider changing their habits? For their sakes, we hope so.