Whitehorse may repeal smoking bylaw

Whitehorse council is considering repealing its smoking bylaw. This will "prevent confusion on the part of the citizens of Whitehorse," according to bylaw services manager John Taylor.

Whitehorse council is considering repealing its smoking bylaw.

This will “prevent confusion on the part of the citizens of Whitehorse,” according to bylaw services manager John Taylor.

The confusion stems from the territorial government’s anti-smoking legislation.

The Yukon Smoke Free Places Act was passed last year.

“Any time you have two different laws with different rules and different penalties it can cause some confusion,” said Taylor.

“Just to make it simpler for everybody, it’s better just to have one law.”

In some cases the territorial smoking act is stricter than the city’s smoking bylaw.

Smokers are forced to stand further away from entrances and windows and initial fines are more severe.

However, the city does have loftier fines for second and third offences.

The territory has hired one enforcement officer to handle its new smoking legislation.

The city’s smoking bylaw, which was passed in 2003, banned smoking in all public areas within the city.

Right now there are very few infractions every year, said Taylor.

“When it first came through, the big issue was with the bars,” he said.

“And we confronted those by collecting evidence and going to court. I’m pretty sure that we’ve attended to that.”

Recently, bylaw has only received a few complaints.

Most involve people smoking too close to doorways, forcing others to walk through a cloud of smoke as they exit a building.

Citizens can still contact bylaw services if they notice an infraction.

“We’d never turn anybody away,” said Taylor.

“We’d take down the information and then forward it back over to the territorial government’s enforcement officer for him to follow up on.”

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

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