The B.C. and Yukon branch of the Canadian Cancer Society is calling on the province to make all outdoor bar and restaurant patios as well as beaches, parks and playgrounds smoke-free.
“During National Non-Smoking Week, we are urging policy-makers to do one thing to enhance tobacco control and help prevent cancer: expand regulations around smoke-free public places,” said branch CEO Barbara Kaminsky in a statement.
The province’s Tobacco Control Act provides a baseline of air-quality protection with no smoking in “substantially enclosed” public or workplaces, or within a three metres of a door or open window, according to the Health Ministry.
“Government supports allowing municipalities to strengthen regional tobacco control bylaws, including smoking restrictions in outdoor areas, as they are best able to gauge local readiness,” said ministry spokesman Ryan Jabs.
In the Capital Regional District and Vancouver, smoking on patios is prohibited.
“There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, a fact supported by the U.S. Surgeon General and Medical Health Officers’ Council of B.C.,” Kaminsky said.
Tobacco is the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in B.C., killing more than 6,000 each year, according to the cancer society. Second-hand smoke is linked to the death of up to 140 British Columbians annually.
Smoking rates in B.C. are the lowest in the country at 14.2 per cent.
The province also offers a smoking-cessation program, providing a 12-week supply of free nicotine gum or patches or coverage of prescription medication.
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