New law bans public smoking in Medicine Hat
Law spearheaded by local high school students
A new law set to take effect in Medicine Hat will ban smoking in outdoor public places just in time for summer.
The law, spearheaded by local high school students, restricts smoking within 10 metres of public fields, paths, playgrounds and beaches.
"It's about trying to find that balance where non-smokers' rights can be honoured but also recognizing that smoking isn't illegal," says Varley Weisman, manager of social development with the city of Medicine Hat.
More than 50 municipalities across Canada already have similar bylaws in place, including Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Red Deer. Calgary does not.
"There's nothing worse than inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke, while being active," says Medicine Hat's Youth Advisory Chair Austin Desharnais. "Smokers have the right to smoke but saying that, we feel it's also important that non-smokers have the rights too."
Some say that the new law goes too far.
"I think they should be allowed to smoke," says local resident Logan Krastel. "We're outside — like, you know, they have rights too."
Medicine Hat will be putting up signs in the next few weeks and spreading the word about its new rule.
The new law will take effect in the coming months and will carry a $100 fine for infractions.
A motion on smoking in outdoor areas where children are allowed is going to committee in Calgary next month.