EDITORIAL: Blowing smoke

If you’re smoking in North Vancouver – to borrow an old, kitschy saying – you’d better be on fire. Both the city and district councils have voted to greatly expand the areas where sparking a butt, lighting a doobie or hauling on an e-cigarette in public is prohibited.

In addition to being banned within 7.5 metres of any doors or windows, the city will soon forbid smoking in all parks, plazas and paths. The District of North Van, meanwhile, will no longer allow smoking in its parks or on its trails.

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The rationale is that it’s better for the environment, better for our public health and better for our forests, and we couldn’t agree more. We were as surprised as you that it was legal for people to smoke in places like Lynn Canyon in the first place.

Except for one critical thing. It’s absolutely inevitable that someone will end up fuming mad after they report a smoker violating the new rules to the municipality and see that nothing ever gets done. Enforcement of anti-smoking rules mostly falls to Vancouver Coastal Health and it isn’t any more a priority for them than it is for our municipalities’ relatively small bylaw departments.

We never recommend governments create toothless laws. It sets up false expectations and it erodes faith in the process.

Perhaps it’s time for the province to meet municipalities halfway to make handing out tickets easier. But if our councils really want to stop the noxious fumes, we suggest they first staff up their bylaw departments.

Without enforcement, these bylaw changes amount to councils blowing smoke, which is a filthy habit in its own right.


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