Toughen up laws on smoking: survey

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Toughen up laws on smoking: survey

Rod Nickel, The StarPhoenix
Friday, July 11, 2003

A "substantial" majority of Saskatonians support tougher measures against smoking in public, according to an unreleased Saskatoon District Health survey that's expected to influence city council.

"It's fairly consistent with what we've seen in other major cities in terms of overall support for changes to a more restrictive approach," said medical health officer Dr. Cory Neudorf, adding the findings don't surprise him."

He declined to specify levels of support or poll details, saying analysis of the type of butt ban residents support is continuing.

"It's going to reinforce my position that it's time to continue to move forward with regard to smoking in public," said Mayor Jim Maddin, adding it may be possible to make changes prior to the Oct. 22 election.

"I'm prepared to deal with it. . . . I view smoking as a health issue."

Within a couple of weeks, the health district plans to submit detailed survey results to the city.

In fall, the health district will complete a report outlining the costs, health effects and prevalence of smoking in Saskatoon.

A polling firm surveyed about 1,200 Saskatonians in May.

Maddin said he could support banning smoking in bars and restaurants.

Smoking restrictions are critical to a community's health, since tobacco is a major cause of illness and premature death, Neudorf said.

A ban on smoking limits exposure to second-hand smoke, but smokers also need support to quit, he said, adding that the fall report will outline options.

"It would change the public perception of smoking in terms of the number of kids starting up. In that perspective, it would also be a positive thing."

There are varying opinions among other declared mayoral candidates on the smoking issue.

Peter Zakreski said it's a "given" that restaurants and bars must go smoke-free. The key consideration is giving proprietors enough time to prepare, he said.

"In due course, non-smoking is going to have to come in."

Jim Pankiw said he would abide by whatever the public consensus is on smoking, adding he has no personal opinion on the issue.

"The current city council has a track record of being ham-fisted . . . of not doing consultations with the public."

Don Atchison goes a little further, saying he supports tougher measures of some kind but would rely on consultations to determine their form.

At minimum, he said he supports requiring restaurants to go smoke-free aside from enclosed, separately ventilated areas.

He said as mayor he would lobby the province to take on the issue, which would prevent establishments outside the city from gaining an edge over Saskatoon bars and restaurants.

Cities like Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa have recently adopted tougher smoking measures but never without a fight.

© Copyright  2003 The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)


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