“It is the policy of the Township of South Dundas that no person shall smoke, chew or engage in any other use of tobacco industry products, on or in any public playing field, playground equipment zone or other public recreation place.”
This is the opening statement in South Dundas recreation program coordinator Ben Macpherson’s draft policy document for smoke-free outdoor spaces, presented at council on May 15th.
Council accepted the draft, but as Macpherson pointed out, “the policy hasn’t officially been approved” as of yet.
“I will be coming back with a couple of things added to the policy including a preamble to indicate that the policy is in effect when youth are present or are engaged in recreation or sport,” he said.
Suggestions for changes to the policy resulted from a discussion focused on the rights of smokers versus the rights of non-smokers.
Getting the discussion underway, councillor Evonne Delegarde was first to inquire about the adult events and whether this policy would impact those smoking adults that participate in those events, like blooper ball for example.
“It’s any event where children are part of the event,” clarified Macpherson. “It’s where there’s influence on children.”
“The more I thought about this,” said councillor Archie Mellan, “the more it bothered me. It is a legal activity.”
“What about the docks,” he asked.
“Yes, there would be kids playing, but it’s a policy,” Macpherson responded, emphasizing the difference between a policy, which is not policed, and a by-law, which is policed.
“A smoker doesn’t have the right to impose second-hand smoke on non-smokers,” conceded Mellan, “but a smoker has the right to have a cigarette. What about smoking areas?”
“If we’re going to promote the rights of the non-smokers, then we’re going to protect the rights of the smokers,” added Mellan.
“The largest concern is freedom of choice,” said Macpherson, pointing out that because it’s a policy it isn’t necessarily mandatory in the way a by-law would be mandatory. It’s more of a strong suggestion.
“I will support it,” said Mellan, “but I think we should have smoking areas if we’re going to have non-smoking areas.”
Mayor Steven Byvelds suggested there should be a preamble pointing out that “our concern is with children.”
“I don’t want to go down councillor Mellan’s road of having segregated smoking areas. They shouldn’t be doing it when young children are around,” he continued, predicting “the worst place will be in front of the arena.”
Mellan said that he understood the point of the policy was education and influence on young children, but added, “I hope we don’t take this to the next step.”
Byvelds reminded council that “the intention isn’t to ban.”
“It will probably come down from the province eventually,” offered Macpherson.
Councillor Jim Graham suggested that the policy would police itself: “whether it’s adult areas or not, if there are non-smokers there they’ll make it known.”
According to the draft policy document, “public playing fields and recreation spaces means fields and/or lands of natural and/or man-made composition that are used for athletic purposes to conduct organized or unorganized sporting activities.”
“This shall include a 15 meter fringe area around the perimeter of the established playing boundary or recreation facility to include but not limited to baseball diamonds, soccer fields, lawn bowling, tennis/badminton courts, football fields, athletic tracks, and associated outdoor fields, ice rinks, pools, and other public recreation facilities including halls, centers, gazebos, pavilions, and shelters.”
“Smoke includes carrying a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other lighted smoking equipment.”