Penticton beaches soon to be off limits to smokers
By summertime, smokers in Penticton are likely to find available space to indulge their habit shrinking again.
This week, Penticton city council gave first reading to a bylaw amendment that will add beaches to the list of places where cigarette smoking is banned.
Coun. John Vassilaki was the first to raise the simple question of how the City of Penticton, with only a few bylaw officers, is going to be able to police smoking on the beach,
“It’s going to be an impossibility,” said Vassilaki.
“Are we going to have people on the beach fighting because someone wants to smoke and the guy beside him is screaming at him?”
Besides bylaw enforcement, said Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations, RCMP would also be enforcing the ban, whether responding to complaints, on regular patrols or on one of their periodic drives to curb a particular issue.
But Moroziuk said the plan is also to rely on a strong element of self-policing: beach goers telling their neighbours to stop smoking.
“They have found that does reduce it. I am not saying you are going to completely eliminate conflict, you may indeed get that, but other places have found there is an element of self–policing in the bylaws,” said Moroziuk.
Coun. Helena Konanz agreed with the concept, drawing the comparison of drinking on beaches, common in Europe, but non-existent in Canada.
“Pretty much people follow the law. I think they just have to get used to it,” said Konanz, who wondered why parks were also not being placed under a smoking ban. “We might as well bite the bullet and do the entire park system.”
Coun. Wes Hopkin, the youngest member of council and a non-smoker, was the only councillor to oppose the smoking ban.
“Smoking is filthy but it is not illegal, “ he said.
He supports the ban for enclosed spaces like restaurants, but feels it is unnecessary on the beaches, where people can easily move away from smokers.
“If you want to destroy your body, you have the right to do that.”
Litke, on the other hand, argued that the point of such a ban is to create a disincentive for smokers and encourage them to change their lifestyle.
“Their rights become our responsibility,” said Litke. “We end up paying for their health problems.”
First reading of the amendment passed with a 6-1 vote.