The playground at McCauley School in Edmonton sits empty Thursday Jan. 26, 2012.
Credits: DAVID BLOOM/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
A proposed city bylaw amendment going before the community standards committee Monday could mean anyone caught smoking within 10 metres -- or 30 feet -- of a playground, outdoor rink, skate park, sports field or water spray park will be slapped with a $250 ticket.
The bylaw adds onto the provincial law that prohibits smoking within five metres of building doors.
"What's being proposed is a set-back distance from these sorts of outdoor facilities that children frequent,"
said David Aitken, Community Services Branch Manager.
A city report says the focus of the bylaw will be to "regulate outdoor smoking where children are commonly present" and curb "health-related risks of second-hand smoke, particularly (in) children."
"The reason that we went with the greater distance than the doorway setback is because you're outdoors, in close proximity to those sorts of facilities that wold give enough distance that the smoke would go up and dissipate quickly rather than impact people," he said, adding Edmonton had the five-metre non-smoking door limitation long before the province made it mandatory.
If the bylaw change is approved, the city will launch a $75,000 multi-year educational campaign to warn residents about the new rule.
The key goals of the blitz will be to "create widespread exposure and quickly build awareness."
Preliminary plans say the initial launch of the education campaign will involve children and some sort of anti-smoking champion.
Anti-smoking groups are applauding the proposed bylaw change, predicting residents will welcome the new rule.
"If the goal here is to create a smoke free generation, then we need to reduce the amount of smoking that these children are exposed to in public places," said Les Hagen with Campaign for a Smoke Free Alberta.
"I think there will be widespread public support and I also believe that the vast majority of people will comply automatically with the new rules once they know what the rules are."
A 2007 Alberta Tobacco Survey found that 70% of respondents supported a ban on smoking in parks and beaches, while 61% say they were exposed to second hand smoke on a sidewalk.
Hagen said the ban will help "(model) smoke free behaviour for young people."
Coun. Ed Gibbons is in favour of outdoor smoking set-back limits, saying kids are outside to breath fresh air and exercise.
"I believe that anywhere around children I have a very strong attitude that we've got to be careful where we're smoking," he said.
"I do believe in a certain distance (to limit smoking). I'm not sure if 10 metres is the right distance but I'll listen to all of the facts."
If approved by the committee, the bylaw amendment would have to be passed by council before taking effect.