New smoking curbs announced

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

New provincial guidelines will become law at the end of March, giving retailers some time to adjust

Fiona Anderson

New rules about where British Columbians can smoke and how cigarettes may be sold will now come into effect at the end of March to give retailers time to adjust.

The regulations announced Tuesday put in place legislation originally passed last March. It bans smoking in all indoor public spaces and workplaces as well as within three metres of doorways or open windows. Vendors will also be prohibited from displaying tobacco products in places accessible by those under 19 and advertisements on countertops, hanging from ceilings or on outdoor signs will no longer be allowed.

“We are working to reduce tobacco use across our province and ensuring that British Columbians are protected from the deadly effects of second-hand smoke,” Health Minister George Abbott said in a news release. “Stricter regulations about public and workplace smoking are part of our strategy to reduce the impact of tobacco on our health system and prevent chronic diseases associated with tobacco use.”

Currently about 15 per cent of British Columbians smoke, “and we’re going to try to drive that rate down even more,” Abbott said. Some day tobacco could even be banned, he said.

In September, new legislation banned tobacco use in schools and on school grounds. Next October, all health authorities will also be required to be smoke-free.

The rules were originally expected to come in force early in 2008, but six weeks of consultation in July convinced the government to give retailers and the hospitality interest a small reprieve.

“The retail sector and the hospitality sector were pretty much universal in saying it would be very difficult for them to make the changes that are going to be required by the regulations during their busiest retail season, which is around Christmas,” Abbott said. “So they asked for a modest delay.”

Under the provincial regulations, smoking on patios will still be allowed. However, municipalities could choose to impose stricter rules.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007

Comments are closed.