Too far or not far enough?

Recently Red Deer City council gave first reading to a motion that would toughen up the current smoking bylaw.

If given second and third reading at the next council meeting on Feb. 4th it would ban smoking within 10m of playgrounds, sports fields, spray parks, seasonal skating rinks and skate parks. Fines included in the bylaw are $200 for a first offence and up to $2,500 for following offences.

We’ve heard much push back since first reading was given, mostly from smokers who say it is a choice they are making to smoke and it’s not fair to be punished because of that.

While this is true, non-smokers can also say that although they have made the choice to not take up the habit they still find themselves around people who do smoke. For example, have you ever walked out of the mall into a cloud of smoke from patrons puffing away outside the doors? Have you ever left a hockey game and not smelt the tobacco as fans stop to have a puff?

In these instances non-smokers often have to hold their breath until they are through the haze. That is not a choice in our opinion.

But does this bylaw make for a happy medium? Smokers would say it certainly doesn’t, as it is more restricting for them. But at the same time, you often find many smokers are respectful of others and you don’t often see them lighting up a cigarette at a child’s soccer game, at the park or where children are really prevalent.

However, if passed, this bylaw will tighten the reigns even more as significant fines will be in play.

If passed, this bylaw will be enforced on a complaint basis.

Although society may not be there quite yet, there has been tremendous progress made in the restrictions of where smokers can light up. As Mayor Morris Flewwelling pointed out, it wasn’t that long ago when council chambers were hazy with smoke as councillors were free to puff away. The same can be said for so many places we utilize today – movie theatres, work places, offices – people don’t even smoke as much in their own homes it seems.

For smokers, it’s pretty a much a losing battle with the tide of public opinion virtually all on the other side. Smokers face increased limitations, which ultimately, is appropriate as what they do doesn’t only affect them. With that being the common sentiment out there, there is little doubt council will support the bylaw and the trend in making Red Deer an increasingly smoke-free city.