A motion presented by City Councillor Marvin Rotrand to make parks in Cote des Neiges – Notre Dame de Grace smoke free will debated by the Borough Council Monday evening.
The motion has garnered the support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Tobacco Addiction Foundation and a dozen community organizations. The motion is also backed by a petition that has started to circulate in the neighbourhood.
Councillor Rotrand indicates that more than 1200 cities in the United States including New York, Los Angeles. San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Honolulu, Portland (Oregon), Minneapolis, Washington and Boston among others have over the course of the last decade made their parks and in many cases their beaches and all sports places smoke free.
In Canada cities such as Vancouver, Saskatoon and Halifax have outlawed smoking in parks on this side of the border.
Smoke free parks and public beaches are becoming the norm through North America where municipalities are extending smoke free zones and adopting clean air laws to promote public health.
In fact, smoking related illnesses lead to 45,000 deaths a year in Canada and cost $16.5 billion a year in additional health care costs and negative impact on the economy. Smoking is a prime cause of heart disease, emphysema, acute myeloid leukemia, and cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, lung, stomach, kidney, bladder, and pancreas.
Smoking is highly addictive and over the years courts have found that cigarette companies have intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction. Tobacco marketing has also been misleading so as to portray smoking as a desirable lifestyle.
In the immediate area of Cote des Neiges – Notre Dame de Grace all the neighbouring towns – Cote St. Luc, Hampstead, Town of Mount Royal, Westmount and Montreal West – have or indicate they soon will adopt bylaws that make their parks smoke free.
Rotrand anticipates that if the motion does not pass, that Cote des Neiges – Notre Dame de Grace parks will act as a magnet for tobacco and marijuana smokers from these towns .
“There is no safe level of second hand and no one should have to breath in unwanted smoke generated by others,” says Rotrand “Every poll shows that the public consensus to extend smoke free protection to more public places already exists.”
Current Quebec law allows smoking at parks, green spaces and beaches with a protected area of only 9 metres around a children’s play area. This exception is ineffective and unenforceable leading many municipalities such as Quebec City and Sherbrooke to use their bylaw power to prohibit all smoking in parks. Rotrand hopes his Borough will follow their lead.