New smoking bylaw hits Hamilton

Smokers will have fewer places to light up in Hamilton starting Thursday, when a new anti-smoking bylaw comes into effect.

Tickets for breaking bylaw will run $365

New restrictions make it illegal to smoke in parks and recreation areas. (iStock)

Smokers will have fewer places to light up in Hamilton starting Thursday, when a new anti-smoking bylaw comes into effect.

The bylaw makes it illegal to smoke in parks and recreation areas — sports fields, arenas, outdoor pools, dog parks, beaches and skateboard parks.

Dr. Ninh Tran, the city of Hamilton's associate medical officer of health, said the city doesn't plan to ticket anyone breaking the new bylaw until 2013.

He said officers likely wont be patrolling parks and recreation sites looking for smokers.

Instead, they'll act on complaints sent to them by residents.

"We're hoping the bylaw will be largely self-regulated and self-enforced," Tran said.

Because the bylaw is so broad, Tran said the city "doesn't expect to be investigating every single complaint."

"We want to be strategic about it," he said. "It wont be feasible to enforce every single area."

He it will cost $365 if you're caught smoking in one of these areas.

Ward four councillor Sam Merulla said it would be hypocritical for a public health body to let people do something in a public place that could eventually kill them.

"We have an obligation here," he said.

Merulla, a smoker for 30 years who quit just over a year ago, said he supported the push for the bylaw even when he still smoked.

He said the new bylaw will hopefully help convince people to break the habit.

"The addiction to nicotine blinds you as to your ability to recognize the behavior will kill you," he said.

Student Aaron Maclellan said he can see the bylaw being a good thing for non-smokers and children.

"But I could see smokers being angry. Some people just want to be able to walk down the street and have a smoke, you know?"

Maclellan said he expects a lot of retalition from smokers on the bylaw.

"Oh, there's going to be a fair bit of that," he said.