Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is pushing to extend smoking bans on the Sunshine Coast, claiming there is "significant support" from Coast residents.
The conclusion was based on the results of a survey distributed in municipal offices and other public places on the Coast between July and September last year.
According to VCH regional tobacco reduction coordinator Caitlin Etherington, a total of 510 residents responded, or 1.6 per cent of the population, which Etherington called "statistically significant" in a summary report released this month.
In the report she acknowledged that Gibsons, with 44 per cent of respondents, was over-represented in the survey, while smokers, at 13 per cent, "were slightly under-represented."
Etherington said the survey found "strong support for enhanced bylaws, particularly within six metres of doorways, windows and air intakes (83 per cent) and on all hospitality patios (69 per cent)."
"Approximately 80 per cent also supported the following more specific points: a total hospitality patio ban would mean no businesses would have an unfair advantage; the need for regulation and protection from big tobacco; and the need to protect hospitality workers," Etherington wrote.
"There is very little concern," she concluded, "about the economic impact of a ban on all hospitality patios."
The report also said 63 per cent of respondents were in favour of the option of banning smoking on trails, 62 per cent supported a ban in parks and 58 per cent wanted smoking banned on beaches.
In her summary, Etherington said the results of the survey "indicate a potential to generate grassroots support around the issue of smoke-free spaces and enhanced bylaws."
Next steps cited in the report include "grassroots mobilization and engaging key stakeholders," and an "action planning session for all supportive residents," scheduled for Feb. 6 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at 5571 Inlet Ave. in Sechelt.
A small number of restaurant patios on the Coast can allow smoking because the patios are not "substantially enclosed" and lie more than three metres from the door, Etherington said last summer.
Currently, under provincial law, smoking is banned within three metres of any public building.
© Coast Reporter