City bans smoking in parks

Bylaw passes in City Council 10-2

Changes to the smoking bylaw in Kingston has prohibited smoking in parks, playgrounds and select bus stops.

The City joins a growing list of Ontario cities, including Barrie and Toronto, to amend their smoking bylaw since 2010. A final draft of the amended bylaw was passed on Oct. 16 at City Council with 10-2 in favour of the amendments. 

The new changes were first recommended by Dr. Ian Gemmill of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health to City Council in early March. A report was then provided by the City of Kingston’s Administrative Policies Committee on June 16. 

The city held an online survey asking for public feedback, which received positive response to the amendments, according to City officials.

Gemmill said changes were proposed in order to deter young children in parks and in playgrounds from emulating adult smokers.

“When children are out playing and being physically active they see adults smoking, and they see their coach smoking,” he said. “What it does is that it sets the community standard now for not smoking where children are likely to be congregating.”

A smoke-free bylaw was first introduced in Kingston in 2002 and banned smoking in public buildings and within nine meters of building entranceways. 

Though there’s a maximum penalty of $5,000 for infringing on the bylaw — the same fine as before — the intentions behind the changes weren’t meant to be punitive, Gemmill said.

“It’s really intended to be a way of indicating to the community that smoking in public places is not okay,” he said. “That’s shown through our public consultations with City health and everyone who came out spoke in favour of it.”

He added that signs will be put up in public parks and bus transfers to inform people of the change. The City is also working on public education initiatives with KFL&A Public Health.

“We’re still debating about the most effective way to do it,” he said. “We might do it in the form of advertisements, flyers or online information.” 

Anne Dunsford, ArtSci ’14, said although she understands the rationale behind the bylaw change, she thinks the restrictions won’t help to deter kids from smoking. 

“The Internet is just as much or more a public space as a park,” she said. “If I uploaded a video of myself smoking on YouTube, kids would be more exposed to that than me smoking in a park.”

“If you were to stretch the bill further, you’d have to ban Humphrey Bogard movies because there’s already a pop culture surrounding smoking.”

Dunsford, who’s been smoking since she was 14, said the bylaw won’t affect how she feels about smoking.

“I’m as educated about the dangers of smoking as any other person. Of course I feel guilty about it already,” she said. “I seriously doubt that my profound, deep love of parks is going to stop me.”

— With files from Rosie Hales

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