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Nova Scotia public health officials want municipalities to help curb problem drinking. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's top public health officials are urging municipal politicians to close bars earlier, limit their locations, and cut down where alcohol ads can be viewed.

It’s all part of a pitch to fight against alcohol abuse. While the province controls liquor sales and marketing, local leaders have more control over the bars where people drink.

"You cannot change people’s behaviour by education alone," said Robert Strang, the province’s chief public health officer. "There is a role for legislation. We’ve done that in tobacco.

"The reason that we’re where we’re at with decreasing smoking rates in the last decade is not because we told people they shouldn’t smoke.

"It’s because we had the courage, starting with municipal governments, to ban smoking in public places and then move on to ban smoking in cars."

But not everyone is so keen on new laws. Windsor town councillor Scott Geddes, the owner of restaurant and caterer Cocoa Pesto, worries stricter rules might stop alcohol being served a community events and weddings.

"I’m just really concerned here that maybe we’re penalizing a lot of very responsible people for some that are not," he said. "It’s one bad apple, or two bad apples, is ruining the bunch. And we know that isn’t the case."

Others are more in favour. Antigonish, for example, is cracking down on alcohol-fueled partying by using its noise bylaw.

"Our fine is approximately $400. I'd say that the average cost each time we got to court is approximately $800," said Mayor Carl Chisholm.

"We think it's short term pain for long term gain."