Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Town's Plan to Ban Public Smoking Could Do More Harm Than Good: Advocate

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Town's Plan to Ban Public Smoking Could Do More Harm Than Good: Advocate

Article excerpt

Montreal-area town wants to ban smoking in public

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MONTREAL - A Montreal suburb's plan to ban all smoking in public places is drawing mixed reactions, with one anti-tobacco advocate saying it will do more harm than good when it comes to second-hand smoke.

Hampstead city council adopted a draft bylaw this week that would prohibit tobacco or marijuana smoking on municipal property, including sidewalks and streets.

If the bylaw is enacted, Hampstead would become the first municipality in the country to ban smoking in the street, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

The bylaw, which could come into effect following a second vote in April, does not prohibit electronic cigarettes or smoking in cars.

Mayor William Steinberg says the law would protect people's health and send a strong anti-smoking message.

He said the city was prompted to act by upcoming legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, which is worrisome to some of the town's 7,000 residents.

"Both tobacco and pot, we don't want it happening in public," Steinberg told The Canadian Press. "One of the reasons is second-hand smoke, which is harmful, especially for the elderly, for people with lung diseases and for young people.

"The second reason is example...Young kids are still taking it (smoking) up. And when it comes to the legalization of pot, we definitely have concerns about more young people smoking pot.

"So we don't want to have people setting a bad example. We don't want groups of teenagers or young adults going around smoking joints in our parks or on streets and sidewalks."

But Steinberg denies the bylaw is too draconian for the upscale residential town, which has no stores or office buildings.

"If somebody wants to smoke a cigarette, they can smoke it on their property," he told The Canadian Press.

"If somebody is working in one of our municipal buildings, for public works, you can walk a block and you're out of Hampstead and you can smoke to your heart's content."

But a spokesman for a non-smokers' rights group believes the regulation will do more harm than good.

Francois Damphousse says the law will force more people to smoke indoors, which is much more damaging to the health of those around them. …

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