The biggest myth about the new ban on outdoor smoking in public spaces is that people can no longer smoke anywhere in Chilliwack at all.
They can always retreat to the privacy of their own bathtub, noted Mayor Sharon Gaetz, who was trying to bring a little levity to the subject before going over the details of the new non-smoking bylaw at city hall at the council meeting on Tuesday.
She was responding the flood of commentary on social media about the recently approved Outdoor Public Spaces Smoking Regulation bylaw — some of which didn’t get the facts straight.
“They seldom go to the source for information,” she said.
Gaetz clarified that outdoor use of vaporizers or e-cigarettes will also be prohibited under the new bylaw in the specified areas, as well as pipes and hookahs.
“The whole issue came forward at first over concern about the severe dryness of trails and risk that cigarette smoking caused,” she said.
There was a 200 per cent increase logged in the number of bark mulch and grass fires recently.
One big complaint is people smoking near bus stops.
“They can however smoke if they move 10 metres away from where people are waiting in line at a bus stop” the mayor said.
For the most part voluntary compliance with the bylaw is expected, but bylaw enforcement officers will have the discretion to fine someone up to $500.
“If people persist with smoking, we must enforce the bylaw,” she said.
But education and awareness will roll out first on the city website, and with new signage.
“If you see someone smoking in a public space, be neighbourly and ask them gently and politely not to smoke. That is what we’re hoping will happen.”
No smoking will be permitted within 15 metres of an outdoor playground, playing field, spots venue, stadium or sports facility, or on any land owned by City of Chilliwack or School District 33, at a bus stop, park, off-leash dog park, pool, or trail.
The new outdoor smoking regulation goes into effect on October 1, 2015. All the details are together with a frequently asked questions (FAQs) guide online at www.chilliwack.com.