Smokers banned from lighting up on Eastern Health property are creating a mess on a public walking trail near the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's, and a St. John's city councillor says the health authority should be taking action.
Jonathan Galgay, the city's ward two councillor, said health care workers who smoke have been gathering at a bench on the nearby trail at Long Pond to smoke cigarettes, creating a cloud of tobacco smoke and leaving cigarette butts on the trail.
"Eastern Health has no problem tapping people on the shoulder and saying get off my property because they're smoking," said Galgay. "Well, I think its time that the city return that to Eastern Health."
The public trail is maintained for the city by the non-profit Grand Concourse Authority. Maintenance workers with the authority have posted signs reminding people not to litter, and even installed a special container to contain cigarette butts.
"It's the only one we have in our park system for cigarettes," said Galgay.
Still, said Galgay, the city has to pay for a maintenance worker to clean up cigarette butts at the location twice a week.
Smoking spot popular with walkers and runners
The bench where health workers have been smoking is located on a small bridge over a wetland area. The trail is popular with walkers and runners.
'We hold our breath until we get across the bridge.'- Tammy Perry
"We come around here quite quickly and we hold our breath until we get across the bridge," said runner Tammy Perry. "The smoke is unbelievable."
"I think there needs to be some designated areas with ventilation of some sort, so we don't have to walk through it on our lovely nature walk where we get to exercise."
An Eastern Health official said in a statement on Monday that the health board is not responsible for the condition of the property around Long Pond.
However, Galgay said the smoking hurts both the people using the trail, and the wetland environment near Long Pond. He added that he intends to meet with Eastern Health about the matter later this week.
"Eastern Health has a big responsibility," said Galgay. "They're trying to promote healthy living, but if they're promoting it, they should also be taking action."