Public to weigh in on toughened Edmonton smoking bylaw

Edmonton's smoking bylaw is back before city councillors for discussion Wednesday along with the results of several online opinion surveys done in late July.

Public hearing part of debate Wednesday on revised smoking bylaw

City councillors will debate a toughened smoking bylaw for Edmonton on Wednesday. (CBC)

Edmonton's smoking bylaw is back before city councillors for discussion Wednesday along with the results of several online opinion surveys done in late July.

Councillors approved the new smoking rules for tobacco and cannabis in public places on July 10, then reversed the decision the next day.

Mayor Don Iveson argued at the time that more consultation from the public and business owners was needed.

City staff were then directed to conduct the surveys.

Results of three surveys, and proposed amendments to the city's public places bylaw, will be discussed at Wednesday's meeting of council's community and public services committee. As part of the discussion, a public hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Seventy-nine surveys were completed by business owners in three areas: 124th Street, downtown and Old Strathcona.

Just over half of respondents supported increasing the distance — from five metres to 10 metres — that must separate smokers from doorways, windows and air intakes while consuming tobacco or cannabis.

"People smoking near our doors is already an issue in our retail space," one business owner wrote in the survey. "I am concerned about second-hand smoke impacting vulnerable staff and customers."

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents opposed increasing the distance to 10 metres.

"It would appear that many blocks are in essence blocked off," a business owner replied to the city survey. "A smoker would therefore have to walk a long ways from the restaurant to a smoking zone. Not fair."

When it comes to second-hand smoke, the city has "a job to control the negative effects you may have on a neighbour," Coun. Ben Henderson said Monday.

People should be able to walk down the street without having to deal with a wall of smoke of any kind, Henderson said.

New bans proposed

A general public survey conducted in late July was completed by 8,720 people.

A majority of respondents to that survey supported banning tobacco and cannabis consumption at all City of Edmonton attractions, city-owned golf courses and ski hills, and at all parks that have amenities for children.

Nearly 60 per cent of people who completed the survey also supported the creation of designated smoking areas in parks.

"It's really about creating a standard," said Coun. Michael Walters. 

People who are vaping or smoking cigarettes or cannabis need to "go as far away from others who are not participating in those activities, as they can," Walters said.

The city has received a lot of feedback on this issue, Mayor Don Iveson said.

"The overwhelming consensus is that people do not like the second-hand smoke whatever the substance is," Iveson said.

That opinion has been expressed by businesses as well as individuals, he said.

City council will make a decision on the bylaw at a meeting Sept. 18, Iveson said.