Nova Scotia

New smoking bylaws in HRM come into effect Oct. 15

Smokers in Halifax will be banned from lighting up on municipal property, except in designated areas, when new bylaws come into effect on Oct. 15

'I think it is going to be impossible to enforce,' says municipal councillor

Smoking will be banned in Halifax Regional Municipality starting Oct. 15. (CBC)

Smokers in Halifax will be banned from lighting up on municipal property, except in designated areas, when new bylaws come into effect on Oct. 15.

The bylaw — which bans any kind of smoking or vaping on municipal properties — was adopted at the end of July. That includes tobacco and cannabis.

A news release from the city Friday says municipal staff is determining locations where smoking and vaping will be permitted and those will be posted to a municipal website.

The prohibition has been met with some resistance by smokers and some municipal councillors.

Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre, proposed an amendment to pull tobacco from the bylaw and asked for a staff report on the matter, saying the rules would be unenforceable and didn't make sense. But that was voted down at council.

Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre, says the smoking bylaw is going to be nearly impossible to police.

He said Friday he still believes the bylaw doesn't make sense.

"Honestly, I think it is going to be impossible to enforce," Austin said. "We don't have the bylaw officers and this will not be a policing priority.

"This is one of the bylaws you pass trying to set a public expectation rather than one that's going to be enforced by municipal staff."

He called it "the worst of all worlds because it is not a complete ban."

There will still be smoking in certain areas that will have to designated which, he says, will require a lot of effort and will be a headache to determine.

"You can go downtown and find people smoking where they're not supposed to now. I don't know why this will be any different."

'A very heavily addictive drug'

Also on Friday, health professionals discussed ways to help people quit at the 2018 Tobacco Control Symposium, put on  by the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and Smoke-Free Nova Scotia.

There needs to be big changes in both mindset and policies to reach the federal government's target of reducing the national smoking rate to five per cent by 2035, said Dr. Peter Selby, chief of medicine and psychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Illness at the University of Toronto, who attended the event.

"About 45,000 Canadians die every year from tobacco smoking," he said. "People should stop looking at this as a habit. It's an addiction with a very heavily addictive drug.

"It is the smoke from tobacco that kills people, not the nicotine. But the nicotine is what gets people addicted. So the resources we need is a change in mindset."

He urged people to realize they have an addiction and they need to be treated, whether through medication or counselling, or a combination of both.

Dr. Peter Selby, chief of medicine and psychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Illness and the University of Toronto, says smoke-free policies are too weak in Canada and the price of cigarettes too low to reduce the smoke rate. (CBC)

"And also make sure that they keep trying. Many people can't quit the first time. That's because this addiction takes over many parts of the brain — it's not just pleasure. It's the habit system, it's the learning system, it's the stress system. It affects many parts of the brain."

Smoking is also not a good way to consume cannabis, Selby said.

"Smoke is smoke is smoke. From health perspective, people need to find ways to consume cannabis that doesn't hurt their health."

Tougher policies dictating pricing and packaging of cigarettes and smoking restrictions are also necessary, he said.

Smoke-free Nova Scotia announced Friday that smokers who want to quit can access Smoke-Free Nova Scotia programs by calling 811.

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