City to look at banning smoking, vaping in Calgary parks

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In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. Calgary is looking at banning smoking and vaping in public parks and pathways.  (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press - image credit)
In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. Calgary is looking at banning smoking and vaping in public parks and pathways. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press - image credit)

Calgary could soon join the ranks of Alberta municipalities that restrict smoking and vaping in public parks.

A city council committee supported a plan Friday to ban smoking and vaping in city parks and along its pathways, starting  Aug. 1.

City council will discuss the plan next month. If approved, smoking and vaping will no longer be permitted in the city's parks and pathway system, except in designated areas during festivals and events.

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra says he supports the change and hopes that council will as well.

"I think this is a sensible ratcheting of our bylaws toward the goal of having as few people addicted to nicotine as possible, and we know that this slow ratcheting over time works."

About 500 tickets were issued under the city's smoking bylaw over the past three years.

Coun. Kourtney Penner said there were telephone surveys on the topic.

"Certainly there is broad support amongst Calgarians for the restrictions on smoking and vaping on pathways and in parks," she said.

Exemptions would be allowed in designated smoking and vaping areas at festivals and special events.

Dr. Brent Friesen, with Alberta Health Services said only 14 per cent of Albertans smoke, a number that has dropped substantially over the decades.

Friesen says he supports the ban, but suggested exempting designated areas from the bylaw should only be a short-term strategy.

"There can be a role for the use of designated smoking and vaping areas as a transition strategy, as you move from allowing smoking and vaping to not allowing," he said.

"But in most cases that transition time is over the course of one to two years."

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