The Canadian Cancer Society is calling for a smoking ban for Yukon motorists travelling with children, and it’s looking for support from the city.
The reason is simple — smoking kills and most Canadians feel that people under the age of 18 shouldn’t be subjected to second-hand smoke, said the society’s Yukon manager Scott Kent.
“The Canadian Cancer Society recently released the results of a poll that we had commissioned using Environics,” said Kent.
“We found that 82 per cent of Canadians supported (a smoking ban in cars) and 62 per cent of smokers supported that ban.
“It’s been proven that it’s damaging to health.”
The cancer society would like the territorial government to include cars in its proposed anti-smoking legislation, said Kent.
The society wants the city to call attention to the need for such legislation, he said.
“We’ve recently seen regions in Canada that have brought in that ban. Wolfville, Nova Scotia, did it, followed by all of Nova Scotia (which will be brought into force later this year),” said Kent.
“We’re hopeful that the territorial government will follow suit … we’ll be the last jurisdiction in the country to bring in a smoking ban.
“What that also means is we have the opportunity to have the strongest legislation.”
The legislation is being proposed by Yukon Liberal MLA Darius Elias and is slated to be discussed during the legislative assembly’s next sitting.
Elias has also met with Whitehorse Mayor Bev Buckway and Health Minister Brad Cathers on the issue, said Liberal spokesman Jason Cunning.
Council was divided on the issue Monday night.
Buckway was for it, as was councillor Dave Austin.
“I’d like to support this. Vehicles are a confined area and children are the least able to stand up for themselves,” said Buckway.
Councillor Doug Graham, who put forward the city’s smoking ban, does not support legislating private property.
“As soon as you start introducing legislation on private property, how long will it be until we legislate people smoking in their homes if a minor is present?” he said.
“As soon as we start legislating private property that’s where I draw the line.”
Councillor Jeanine Myhre agreed.
Although she’d support the ban, Myhre is also fundamentally against legislating people’s private property, she said.
“I kind of get irritated with the think-of-the-children laws,” said Myhre.
There are already a number of examples of laws that affect private property, said Kent.
Those laws include banning open liquor containers in cars, as well as requirements for seatbelts and car seats.
Wolfville’s smoke-free-vehicles law, designed to protect youngsters reads: “It shall be unlawful for the operator or any passenger in a motor vehicle to smoke cigarettes, pipes, or cigars in a motor vehicle, passenger van, pick-up truck or commercial vehicle, when any child eighteen years of age and under is present in the vehicle regardless of whether the motor vehicle’s windows or doors are open.”
The bylaw, available online, also covers other combustible substances including weeds, plants and regulated narcotics and carries a maximum fine of $200 per offence.
While Nova Scotia is the first Canadian province to adopt such legislation, several jurisdictions in the US have adopted it, including Arkansas, Louisiana, California and the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
In Australia, the states of South Australia and Tasmania have enacted anti-smoking laws in cars.