Courtenay should ban smoking in public places

Dear editor,

After a recent vacation to the city of Whistler, I desire more than ever to see our community follow suit by creating a bylaw that bans smoking of any kind in all our parks and beaches.

The beaches and parks in Whistler were clean of cigarette butts, and the air was fresh without the overpowering smell of nicotine, marijuana or vaping fumes.

People from all over the world enjoyed the smoke-free environment, enforced only by the underlying bylaw and highly visible signage. Everyone appeared to enjoy their time on the beach without a cigarette, and only a few people were observed to sneak a quick puff, albeit away from the public area.

Vancouver has had a ban on smoking in public parks for years and recently Tofino, Campbell River and Duncan have followed suit. Courtenay citizens! Let’s jump in while we can and stop lagging behind other communities to create our own immaculate and smoke-free public areas.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, there are many reasons to have smoke-free outdoor places. Most importantly, second-hand smoke affects our health.

The National Toxicology Program estimates that at least 250 chemicals in second-hand smoke are known to be cancer causing.

It is discouraging to see cigarette butts all over the ground, and to smell the cigarette or marijuana smoke wafting over the entire beach area. It only takes one cigarette to affect the air quality of many people. Have you ever attended a Sunday evening concert at Simms Park or gone for a walk at the Airpark, only to have it ruined by cigarette odour? Why do we spend our tax dollars promoting no smoking to our children, yet allow our public parks to be smoking areas?

Puntledge Park is my neighborhood park and it includes a forest with trails, making it a greater risk for fires from cigarettes. I have watched the park deteriorate over the summers with an increase of smoking, pot smoking, littering and open drinking of alcohol.

I really think it’s time that Courtenay adopted a new and modern approach to smoking in public places, particularly our beaches and parks. Let’s acquire a bylaw to keep our beaches and parks fresh, clean and natural.

Jennifer Williams

Courtenay