EDITORIAL: Smoking ban sends message

Bylaw would be step further in eliminating smoking from public areas.

Making Nanaimo’s parks, trails, fields and recreation facilities official smoke-free zones is a great idea to send a positive message the city is committed to fostering a healthier community.

The city intends to gather public input on the idea, on the heels of a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid for the Canadian Cancer Society which indicated one-in-four Nanaimo residents support smoking bans at city-owned parks and buildings.

The city’s heart is in the right place, but such a ban would be difficult to enforce in many areas, particularly the more remote spots in parks or on trails.

Don’t expect a major crackdown on smokers from bylaw enforcement, which already operates on a primarily complaint-driven response to the hundreds of existing city bylaws.

The move would be akin to the push a few years back to declare the city a ‘nuclear weapons-free zone’. Sure it sounds nice, but it doesn’t mean much when it comes down to brass tacks.

But ‘sounding nice’ does bring some potential benefits, such as advertising our city – which already promotes itself as a health-conscious mecca for outdoor recreation – as a smoke-free environment.

It would also be a step further – signage at some public places and playgrounds was already implemented a few years ago – in ‘denormalizing’ smoking in public, which is proven to have deleterious health effects on the non-smoking majority.

It might be unenforceable officially, but it would at least give non-smoking citizens the upper hand in asking smokers to butt out in affected public areas.

Now if we can just find a way to do something about the prevalence of toxic attitudes in our city.