'Children are among the most vulnerable': Cancer Society pushing for smoke-free outdoor public places

The Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division, would like to make smoking and vaping on outdoor patios and public spaces a thing of the past.

'A strengthened provincial legislative approach is the next obvious step'

Smoking is permitted on outdoor patios in PEI between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division, would like to make smoking and vaping on outdoor patios and public spaces a thing of the past.

The Canadian Cancer Society is pushing the provincial government to expand current legislation to include a ban on smoking in outdoor spaces where people — particularly children — are often enjoying the outdoors.

"Playgrounds, outdoor sporting facilities, events, beaches, these are not included," said Marlene Mulligan, chief executive officer of the Canadian Cancer Society, Prince Edward Island.

'Children among the most vulnerable'

The Canadian Cancer Society in PEI would like to see smoking banned in outdoor spaces such as playgrounds and sports fields. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"I think it's fair to say children are among the most vulnerable because they're forming their ideas about how to behave in the world."

Mulligan said another area where P.E.I. stands alone in the country, is patios. P.E.I. is the only province in Atlantic Canada that permits smoking on patios.

Smokers are allowed to light up on patios between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.

She said the impact of second-hand smoke should be reason enough.

No smoke is OK

Molly Doucette enjoys a cigarette while on a break from class. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"Non- smokers on the patios and the employees that are serving the folks that are there, so there's no amount of secondhand smoke that's ok. It's all toxic. There's a hundred different chemicals in secondhand smoke, and 70 of them are known to cause cancer, and the second issue is our youth, so the secondhand smoke for sure."

Currently, a designated outdoor smoking area must be at least 4.5 metres from any entrance in P.E.I.

Hundreds of municipalities across Canada, including Charlottetown, have bylaws and policies to protect the public from exposure to second-hand smoke in outdoor spaces, according to a release from the Cancer Society.

'Support makes a big difference'

Marlene Mulligan of the Canadian Cancer Society said there's a growing trend across many Canadian jurisdictions to adopt smoke-free outdoor spaces. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Mulligan said a strengthened provincial legislative approach is the next obvious step.

"The flavoured tobacco ban in the province which happened in May which is awesome because those products are targeted at our youth, and the province is also working on getting cessation aids or quitting aids to those folks who are already smoking and want to quit because the supports make a big difference."

The legislation is in place. It's really about looking at how can we expand it."

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, a 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey, showed the smoking rate in PEI is 15%.