This report outlines a proposal for a Renewed Strategy for a Smoke-Free Ottawa, designed to protect children and non-smokers from second-hand smoke (SHS) and to reduce tobacco use.
The proposed strategy includes a significant increase in programming for people who want to quit; new smoke-free regulations to protect people from SHS and a public awareness, community engagement and advocacy strategy designed to make Ottawa a healthier city for all.
OPH is recommending to the Ottawa Board of Health (BOH), the Community and Protective Services Committee (CPSC) and City Council that existing smoke-free regulations be amended, beginning this year, to prohibit smoking on:
· All municipal properties, including parks, playgrounds, beaches, sports fields, fruit and vegetable markets and outdoor areas around City facilities; and
· Outdoor restaurant and bar patios and terraces.
These initiatives have been developed after extensive public consultation and research and do not require additional funding to enforce or to deliver enhanced services.
OPH’s consultations and public opinion research indicate that Ottawa residents strongly support creating more smoke-free spaces. If the recommendations in this report are adopted by Council, Ottawa will join a growing number of municipalities that have made such places smoke-free.
SHS is a known health hazard and studies have found that it can be as toxic outdoors as indoors (1-12). Sadly, every year 1,000 smokers and non-smokers in Ottawa die prematurely of tobacco related illness (13). Smoking and SHS has a financial cost as well, including $2 billion in direct health care costs to the Ontario economy (14). For Ottawa residents, hospitalization costs alone due to smoking-related illnesses are almost $40 million per year (13).
The purpose of the proposed regulatory amendments is to reduce public exposure to SHS and the resulting risk of tobacco related chronic illness. The proposed amendments are part of an overall OPH strategy to protect children and non-smokers from SHS exposure, reduce smoking rates, increase tobacco cessation attempts, reduce tobacco use initiation, and improve health outcomes such as reducing heart attacks, respiratory illness and cancer.
The regulations would complement community engagement activities that will advance smoke-free policies in settings such as hospitals and post-secondary campuses, doorways, hotels, motels and bed and breakfast establishments, spectator events, multiple unit dwellings, and outdoor worksites such as construction sites.
A phased-in approach for enforcement of the regulatory amendments is recommended. Beginning with awareness raising and warnings, fines would not be levied until three months after the amendments take effect. It is anticipated that there would be a high degree of voluntary compliance and, as a result enforcement is recommended to be predominantly complaint-driven and would not require additional by-law staff or other resources. Enforcement would be accompanied by a parallel strategy that includes a public awareness campaign to inform the public of the regulatory changes and to increase awareness of the health risks of tobacco smoke and the dangers of water-pipe use.
Full Report here