Moose Jaw Chooses Health
October 23, 2003
Moose Jaw has set the trend in Saskatchewan. Approximately two-thirds of Moose Jaw voters said yes to having a smoke free city and no to any exemptions. The FOR-AGAINST-AGAINST-AGAINST campaign (for a bylaw and against exemptions) resonated with residents as they chose to have a cleaner healthier environment within which to work and play by a two-to-one majority.
The Lung Association of Saskatchewan congratulates members of People For a Smoke Free Moose Jaw for their hard work and success. We will be awarding Certificates of Appreciation to all the members to thank them for promoting and safeguarding lung health in their community.
The action began on March 10, 2003 when Lucy Dalgarno and Dave Osberg brought their grade 8 class from Prince Arthur School to a City Council meeting as part of a class project. The students presented arguments for having a smoke free bylaw in Moose Jaw. When they received a negative response they decided to do something about it. The next step was a petition. The action begun by the students was translated into a community effort with the formation of People For a Smoke Free Moose Jaw.
Many people who were part of People For a Smoke Free Moose Jaw worked diligently and gave unselfishly of their time from the planning stages last spring to the very last day of the campaign. They gathered over 3500 signatures on their petition to force a legally binding referendum question at the civic election held October 22.
Moose Jaw city council continued to resist a smoke free bylaw. When the petition for a referendum on a smoke free bylaw was successful, Council developed three exemptions to exclude certain businesses and activities which would dilute the effectiveness of the bylaw. Voters rejected all of these exemptions.
People For a Smoke Free Moose Jaw used a variety of media to inform about the detrimental effects to health associated with second hand smoke. They used data gathered from throughout North America to show that the opposition predictions of an economic downturn following the implementation of a bylaw to ban smoking in public places were not seen in other jurisdictions.
The issues of personal freedom and public health were widely debated during the campaign. It appears that voters agreed that the right of people to use a dangerous yet legal product does not permit them to endanger the health of others.
Moose Jaw will be the first municipality in Saskatchewan to have all public places smoke free. They join many smoke free cities throughout North America including Ottawa, Winnipeg and New York City. Other Saskatchewan locations such as Prince Albert and Saskatoon are considering similar bylaws.
It appears that Moose Jaw City Council will pass an appropriate bylaw on November 10, 2003 with an implementation date of February 11, 2004.
© Lung Association of Saskatchewan, 2003-10-23