Ban smoking in parks, outdoor patios, OPH report says

Ottawans may be breathing cleaner air in public spaces if city council approves recommendations made by Ottawa Public Health (OPH).

Under the new bylaws, smoking in parks, beaches, market stands and restaurant patios would be banned, according to a report released by OPH.

“We are seeing tobacco as the leading preventable death in Ottawa,” said Sherry Nigro, an OPH manager.

The proposed bylaws are designed to protect children and non-smokers from second-hand smoke and to help residents quit smoking.

Sidewalks, roads and private property would not be subject to the new bylaws.

The public health body also recommended the city provide more services for residents trying to quit smoking and implement public education campaigns to decrease the number of young people who start.

The suggestions will be brought forward at a city council meeting on Feb. 6. If approved, a three-month warning period would begin on April 2 and officials would begin enforcing the new bylaws on July 2.

Offenders would be issued a $305 ticket on their first infraction.

The final version of the recommendations does not include an 8 p.m. curfew that the city originally requested in the report. This curfew would have allowed smokers to indulge after this time without penalty.

OPH found allowing people to smoke in the evening would hinder their efforts, said Nigro. The curfew would have also made enforcement tougher for bylaw officials when people complained, as it would be difficult to determine if infractions happened before or after the cut-off time.

“The purpose of this is to create smoke-free areas,” she said. “Smoke is toxic 24 hours a day.”

The new bylaws would be implemented at no additional cost to the city, said Nigro. OPH receives funding from the province and a small amount from the city, and the body would re-allocate its own spending to be able to run the increased programming.