BANFF, Alta — It could become much harder to find a place to smoke in the coming years as the Town of Banff considers a smoking and vaping bylaw.
On May 24, the governance and finance committee directed administration to return with draft regulations that would further restrict smoking or vaping of tobacco in public outdoor spaces beyond what was identified in provincial legislation.
A survey was conducted with 508 individuals, 44 per cent of whom vaped or smoked tobacco or cannabis. In the survey, it was found that 69 per cent of non-smokers felt smoking should be banned in areas such as recreational picnic areas, while 73 per cent of non-smokers also wanted smoking banned at the skate park. In contrast, 28 to 35 per cent of smokers felt this should be the case.
These findings were shared with council on June 22, 2020, with administration directed to return with a report to consider public smoking regulation changes in Banff once the province had amended the Tobacco, Smoking and Vaping Reduction Act, which took place in July 2021.
Currently, tobacco smoking is banned in the workplace, enclosed public spaces, in a public vehicle, near minors, or within five metres of doorways, windows or air intakes. The amendment to the provincial act would also ban it on school property, within five metres of playgrounds, sports fields, skateboard and bike parks, zoos, outdoor theatres, or public outdoors splash pads.
“This is really tough to enforce. Let’s say you have someone smoking within five metres of a doorway on Banff Avenue,” Mayor Corrie DiManno said. “The other piece is are we receiving those kinds of complaints? Is it still tough to enforce that type of thing?”
DiManno was told that while difficult to enforce, there had been very few complaints and no charges laid for smoking in front of doorways.
Coun. Grant Canning stated that things were moving towards limitations on smoking locations, and Banff needed to decide where it would be on the curve.
“There is no question in my mind the trend will go in this direction,” Canning said. “As time goes on, these regulations will become more and more restrictive. The question becomes, do you want to be ahead of the curve, behind the curve or on the curve?”
DiManno questioned the division between cannabis and tobacco when it came to where one could smoke.
“What I keep coming back to is it is really interesting when you put in cannabis, right away it was not in the public realm,” she said. “It resonates with me we have one set of rules for one type of smoking and another set for another type and I’m not sure it is fair to have two different sets of rules.”
DiManno also felt that limiting smoking would help from an environmental focus.
“A big piece is about keeping our mountain air clean,” DiManno said. “How can we say that for one piece and for not this other piece? Cigarette smoke contributes to that not clean mountain air.”
She added that during a recent community cleanup on Earth Day, the No. 1 thing she cleaned up was cigarette butts.
“They were in the hundreds,” DiManno said. “To me, how can we reduce the littering of cigarette butts. The source is the smoker.”
The committee was asked to answer three questions by administration. The first was did the Town want to change its current regulations regarding smoking and vaping. The second related to whether it wanted to change regulations related to smoking or vaping cannabis. The third was whether the town wanted to explore having ventilated smoking pavilions. The committee chose not to change regulations related to cannabis.
DiManno didn’t feel having pavilions was a move in the right direction.
“It seems contradictory to be investing money and space which we know is limited in the Town of Banff to this type of infrastructure,” DiManno said. “For me, every piece we have here is so valuable and at this point, I would like to see space dedicated to other amenities that can be used more widely by the public.”
DiManno would put forward a motion to direct administration to forgo pursuing information related to the design and installation of smoking pavilions. This motion failed.
Coun. Hugh Pettigrew’s motion to remove smoking rooms/floors in hotels and sidewalk/pedestrian zones from the list of locations where smoking would be banned also failed.
A new draft bylaw will be brought forward by administration by July or August.