Council to reconsider anti-smoking bylaw

After initially agreeing it wasn’t prepared to consider a smoke-free bylaw for enclosed public places last month, town council voted in favour of looking into the issue in the near future at last night’s regular meeting.
The motion was made following a presentation by Jennifer McKibbon, health promoter for the Northwestern Health Unit, who along with members of the local Heart Health Coalition, was on hand to deliver some 900 postcards returned by local residents as part of the health unit’s anti-smoking bylaw campaign.
“We haven’t really formulated a system to come up with a bylaw,” Mayor Glenn Witherspoon told McKibbon.
“But I think we’ll soon be advertising for public meetings to get input from people, such as business owners, who will be affected by such a bylaw. And we’ll also seek information from the citizens,” he noted.
“I don’t think there’s anyone here who doesn’t agree smoking is bad for you,” the mayor said. “But before we act on it, we have make sure we get enough input to make the best decision.
“I would say we could have an answer for you in two months,” he said to McKibbon.
But Coun. Struchan Gilson argued the town shouldn’t wait to implement a bylaw. “It’s been proven that second-hand smoke can kill you. This is a moral issue,” he charged.
“I don’t think we need to discuss this with anybody. We can create this bylaw and we should,” added Gilson to the applause of coalition members seated in the council chambers.
McKibbon and other health unit workers have been delivering the postcards to municipalities in the Kenora and Rainy River districts over the past couple of weeks.
The campaign saw an average return rate of 20 percent, with about 18 percent of the population of Fort Frances mailing their postcards in.
Since January, regional municipalities have been encouraged to adopt bylaws prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places after Dr. Pete Sarsfield, CEO and medical officer of health for the Northwestern Health Unit, declared second-hand smoke a health hazard.