B.C. must butt out

Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon continues to encourage B.C. government to support smoke-free public outdoor spaces.

To the Editor,

With National Non-Smoking Week last week, the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon, is continuing to encourage the B.C. government – and all political parties – to support smoke-free public outdoor spaces.

These include the patios of hospitality establishments, and where children play, such as parks, playgrounds and beaches.

Although many municipalities including Nanaimo and Duncan on Vancouver Island have banned smoking in outdoor public places, many British Columbians remain unprotected.

Since we started talking about smoke-free public places, we’ve heard from people on both sides of the fence.

Some feel it is their personal right to smoke where they want and that provincial regulations would be going too far. But the vast majority view smoking restrictions as an important public health measure to protect us all from involuntary exposure. This is a valuable debate and one that we are proud to have sparked.

Debates aside, the facts reveal that tobacco use in our society is taking a staggering toll. Tobacco use remains the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in B.C., killing more than 6,000 British Columbians each year. Second-hand smoke is linked to the death of up to 140 B.C. residents each year.

Currently, the provincial government is deferring to municipalities to decide whether or not to ban smoking in outdoor public places.

However, at the 2012 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September, municipalities spoke loud and clear by asking the province to introduce provincewide restrictions.

Please continue to encourage your MLA, and the B.C. Health Minister, to follow the lead of 30 B.C. municipalities and four other provinces, and keep B.C. beautiful and smoke-free.

Erin Hemmens

Canadian Cancer Society