Nova Scotia

Banned smokers still puff outdoors

A ban on smoking in Halifax parks, beaches and playgrounds went into effect in 2009, but to date not a single person has been fined.

A ban on smoking in Halifax parks, beaches and playgrounds went into effect in 2009, but to date not a single person has been fined.

It appears without enforcement, many continue to flout the ban.

There was no shortage of smokers on the beach at Chocolate Lake in Halifax Friday.

Many said they were unaware of the ban.

"It is pretty disgusting," said Aloysius Hanrahan.

"I don't think smokers realize that their butts are just as much pollution as people throwing cans and wrappers and everything else," he said. "Probably even more so because you have something that's been in an adult's mouth and then it's thrown down for kids to be picking up and rolling around."

More than 400 signs are up in Halifax Regional Municipality, but bylaw enforcement officers don't patrol parks and beaches.

The municipality said it's not in the budget.

HRM said it's up to the public to conform and help enforce the ban.

Some smokers are choosing to walk just off the beach to light up.

"We come off the beach because we think it's respectful to the kids down there," said Sheena Martin.

Her sister Brittany agreed.

"We'd rather come up here and smoke and put our butts up that way than have kids playing in the butts," said Brittany Martin.

"It seems like the right thing to do," said Sheena Martin.

Lifeguards at Chocolate Lake say they point out the signage to those they see smoking.

Cst. Brian Palmeter with Halifax Regional Police said while tickets haven't been issued at parks and beaches, tickets have been issued for smoking near public buildings and for smoking in cars with child passengers.

He said ongoing complaints could prompt police to consider patrols of parks and beaches, but so far there are very few.

"If people raise concerns about areas then we'd obviously want to look into them and make sure they're addressed," said Palmeter.

"If we receive those complaints then we'd act on them and see what role we can take as a police department."

Palmeter said the public could contact police to speak with those violating the smoke-free policy, but officers may not be free to respond in time.

Those who refuse to butt out could be banned from using that public space or fined up to $500 for a second offence.

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