The Town of Stratford is one step closer to passing its Smoke Free Bylaw, after it passed first reading at Tuesday night's meeting.
The bylaw builds on the already existing smoke-free policy, which has been in place since 2007, but council wanted to change the policy to a bylaw to make the rules more official.
"To give it more teeth, so that if need be we can enforce it," said Coun. Jody Jackson, chair of the sustainability committee.
"Our policy has worked very well since 2007 but we need...the ability to enforce the more flagrant violations."
The ban is for all town-owned properties and all town events, even if they are held on a property not owned by the town. It will also now include electronic smoking devices and any other instrument intended for use to smoke tobacco or other products, including marijuana.
The fines would be $100 for the first offence, and $200 to $1,000 for subsequent offences.
More expansive ban considered
The bylaw was developed through a subcommittee made up of representatives from the town along with the Chief Public Health Office, Council for a Smoke Free PEI, residents, business owners as well as residential property owners.
Council had considered a ban in all public places, excluding only private dwellings, but the results of a resident survey swayed the decision to wait on that.
"We had our residents' survey and we heard from residents that they do support our ban in town facilities, town properties," said Jackson.
"We also hear anecdotally that there's a lot of evidence out there that people want to ban smoking in public places and potentially privately-owned public places."
Out of 3,818 households targeted 916 residents responded to the survey, and the support for an all-out ban wasn't as strong as that of a ban at town-owned properties.
A 'first step'
The town is planning further consultations to explore the possibility of expanding the bylaw to include privately-owned outdoor spaces such as parking lots and golf courses, as well as balconies and decks of multi-unit dwellings.
"We want to hear from business and residents and property owners, developers, apartment dwellers, all of those people how they feel about this," said Jackson.
"We thought this was a good first step to get this policy into a bylaw and continue to look at the legalities."
The current bylaw will be read a second time at the Aug. 8 meeting of council before coming into effect.
The town says they will also be working on developing more programs to help people quit smoking.
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