Marvin Ro­trand to ta­ble mo­tion ban­ning smok­ing in parks in Côt­edes-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce

Montreal Times - - News -

Marvin Ro­trand will be tabling a mo­tion to ban smok­ing in parks at the Novem­ber 5 Bor­ough Coun­cil meet­ing in Côte-des-Neiges–NotreDame-de-Grâce. The Snow­don city coun­cilor has long been an ad­vo­cate for a ban on smok­ing in parks.The pro­posed ban will cover tobacco as well as mar­i­juana. It will if adopted ap­ply only to parks in the west-end bor­ough. Parks are lo­cal, City Coun­cil can rec­om­mend but only has ju­ris­dic­tion in re­gional parks like Mount Royal.

"I would like there to be the same uni­form rule of no smok­ing in parks any­where in Que­bec," he says. Provin­cial law in Que­bec cur­rently bans smok­ing nine me­ters from chil­dren's play ar­eas. Ro­trand thinks this kind of reg­u­la­tion doesn't make a whole lot of sense. "There is no such thing as a safe level of smoke," he says not­ing smoke dif­fuses in the air and can travel well be­yond a nine me­ter ra­dius.

Five bor­oughs on the is­land of Mon­treal have adopted non-smok­ing by­laws. In some places the rules are strin­gent; in oth­ers less so. Westmount re­cently banned smok­ing in parks and green spa­ces. Hamp­stead went a step fur­ther: no smok­ing at all in pub­lic spa­ces in­clud­ing side­walks and streets. One po­ten­tial prob­lem in­volves smok­ing mar­i­juana in pub­lic spa­ces. Ro­trand thinks some of the ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions are am­bigu­ous as ap­plied to smok­ing mar­i­juana. Any reg­u­la­tions cur­tail­ing smok­ing mar­i­juana are likely to be chal­lenged by mar­i­juana ad­vo­cates who are rid­ing high now that cannabis use has been le­gal­ized in Canada.

The "Dean" of Mon­treal City Coun­cil isn't wor­ried. Ro­trand is the long­est-sit­ting mem­ber of Mon­treal City Coun­cil and as such his opin­ion car­ries weight across the is­land-city and through­out the prov­ince. He hopes this lo­cal ini­tia­tive will spur other bor­oughs and cities to fol­low suit.This isn't his first rodeo. Ro­trand's fight with like­minded col­leagues in other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties goes back to 2000. Que­bec banned smok­ing in pub­lic spa­ces and work­places, such as of­fices, hos­pi­tals, restau­rants and bars on 31 May 2006. Smok­ing is banned on the prop­er­ties of el­e­men­tary and high schools. The prov­ince elim­i­nated des­ig­nated smok­ing rooms in 2008.

How­ever, Ro­trand says the gov­ern­ment gave them only "a quar­ter loaf". "Mon­treal is not ahead of the curve," he says, not­ing twelve hun­dred US cities have banned smok­ing in parks, recre­ation ar­eas, and beaches. Van­cou­ver has done the same; ditto, for Hal­i­fax, Ot­tawa, Saska­toon, and to some ex­tent Ed­mon­ton. Que­be­cers have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing smok­ers.This is one of those stereo­types that has a grain of truth. A study at the Univer­sity of Water­loo on tobacco con­sump­tion showed that in 2015, smok­ing preva­lence in Que­bec was 14.2%, slightly above the na­tional av­er­age of 13.0%, How­ever, from 1999-2015 preva­lence ap­peared to de­cline fairly steadily, and more steeply than in other prov­inces.

Premier François Le­gault has said he in­tends to fol­low through on a cam­paign prom­ise to ban smok­ing mar­i­juana in pub­lic and to raise the le­gal age to 21 as soon as pos­si­ble.The Plante ad­min­is­tra­tion said it has been in pre­lim­i­nary talks with the CAQ of­fi­cials about the new gov­ern­ment's pro­posed amend­ments to the law. Mayor Va­lerie Plante said while the city be­lieves in the ben­e­fits of the cur­rent law, it won't stand in the gov­ern­ment's way if it de­cides to do some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Ro­trand be­lieves there is broad pub­lic sup­port for a smok­ing ban in parks and hopes that his col­leagues at the bor­ough and in the city will soon come on board.

Marvin Ro­trand theDean of Mon­treal City Coun­cil

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