Advocates for a smoke-free British Columbia

Building support for smoke-free outdoor public places

Since smoking is banned in virtually all indoor public places and workplaces in BC, there is growing demand for smoke-free outdoor settings like parks, beaches, restaurant patios and entertainment venues. The more we know about second-hand smoke, the less we tolerate being exposed to this known health hazard - even outdoors. Plus the benefits go beyond protecting health, and include reducing fire risks and butt littering, protecting kids from negative role modelling and eliminating triggers for people trying to quit smoking.
  • Issue

    Second-hand smoke hurts everyone and is more than a nuisance. It contains the same 4,000+ chemicals that are inhaled by a smoker, and at least 50 of which are known to cause cancer.

    The BC government has banned smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces, substantially enclosed bus shelters, 3 meter buffer zones around entranceways, as well as motor vehicles when youth under 16 are present. They have not however enhanced the ban to include outdoor public places, such as parks, playgrounds, beaches and patios of restaurants and bars. This is unfortunate given the overwhelming body of evidence that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, even outside.

  • Challenge

    There is currently a lack of provincial leadership on banning smoking in public outdoor spaces. As a result, there is a patchwork of municipal bylaws that exceeds the provincial legislation by banning smoking in places like beaches, parks, playgrounds and outdoor sports venues.
  • Opportunity

    Although we would prefer that the provincial government implement province-wide legislation to address this issue, it's at the local level where regulations to protect the public from second-hand smoke in public places are evolving.
    The good news is that many municipalities are leading the way by amending their bylaws to provide stricter protections from second-hand smoke, by banning smoking on patios, parks, playgrounds, and beaches, and creating stronger buffer zones around entranceways, windows and air intakes.
Key Points
  • Behaviour matters
    Smoke-free outdoor spaces reduces opportunities for youth to smoke and denormalizes tobacco use among youth.
  • Smoking rates decline
    Restrictions on smoking help smokers quit and cut down on the amount they smoke.
  • Butts are dangerous
    Cigarette butts litter beaches, and harm small children and wildlife. They take a decade to breakdown and never fully biodegrade. They are also a major fire risk to parks.