Health board puts the squeeze on smokers

Ottawa’s patios, parks, and beaches are one step closer to being smoke-free.

The board of health gave the greenlight to a three-year clean air strategy during a meeting at City Hall Monday night.

The strategy aims to protect children and non-smokers from second hand smoke and help smokers quit.

The report includes a recommendation to ban smoking at all city properties, including City Hall.

Almost 20 public delegates signed up to speak at the meeting, and all but one were in favour of the move.

“I was encouraged to see this,” said Dr. Isra Levy, the city’s medical officer of health.

“I think that the people of Ottawa do want their health protected and they do want to enjoy their public spaces.”

In Ottawa nearly 1,000 smokers and non-smokers die prematurely of tobacco related illness each year.

In addition, almost $40 million is spent on hospitalization for smoking-related illnesses annually.

The plan is for the bylaw to kick in April 2 and be enforced starting July 2.

“Our goal is not to lay charges,” said bylaw chief Linda Anderson.

The strategy will continue Ottawa’s leadership on smoking, said Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes, chairwoman of the board.

And it goes beyond cigarettes.

As part of the recommendations, the board will ask the province and feds to make changes to laws to give the city more power to regulate the use of hookah or water pipes and products.

“We have a real issue with the smoking of tobacco, or quite frankly, any substance in the hookah pipes,” said Levy.

“Certainly, from a health perspective, I’d recommend against it. I think it’s got a whole lot of downsides to it.”

The recommendations will be discussed at the community and protective services committee on Feb. 15, then at council on Feb. 22.

http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/02/06/health-board-puts-the-squeeze-on-smokers

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