B.C. is taking the tough-love approach in the fight against second-hand smoke.
Health Minister George Abbott announced Tuesday that smoking will be banned in all indoor public spaces starting in 2008. Smoking will also be banned in public doorways, near public doors and windows and anywhere else air is taken into public facilities. The ban will go into effect at schools and on school grounds this September. According to Abbott, the decision to amend the Tobacco Sales Act shows the government's commitment to the fight against tobacco use and to reducing the damage of second-hand smoke in society.
"Our government continues to act to address preventable disease and death, and the steps taken today will help build a healthier future for the people of our province. Better prevention and the promotion of health are keys to having good health outcomes for British Columbians," Abbott said in a press release Tuesday. Tighter restrictions are also being put on sales, banning the display of tobacco products in all places accessible to anyone under the age of 19, and ads both indoors and outdoors are being banned too. Dr. Paul Martiquet, medical health officer covering the Sunshine Coast, says this is great news. "It's really important. We have to protect people from second-hand smoke," Martiquet said in an interview with Coast Reporter.
Tobacco use kills over 6,000 British Columbians annually and costs the economy $2.3 billion each year. Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of respiratory diseases and cancers; and second-hand smoke kills up to 140 people in B.C. every year. The B.C. Lung Association is applauding the government for the move. "We are delighted that the government has take this important step forward for public health. Common sense shows that as we make it harder for children and youth to start smoking, and we restrict where people can smoke, we send a strong message that smoking is atypical and not acceptable in our society," said Bobbe Wood, president and CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. and Yukon in a news release.
Education Minister Shirley Bond is equally thrilled with the announcement and says schools need to be healthy places for students and staff. "By banning smoking on all school property, the province is teaching our young people about the dangers of tobacco use and encouraging them to make healthy choices that will last a lifetime," Bond stated in the government press release. Getting teenagers to obey the new law could be a challenge, but Martiquet is hopeful that the majority of British Columbians recognizes the seriousness of second-hand smoke and will voluntarily respect the law. "I think people will self-regulate themselves and abide by the new act," Martiquet said.