Hampstead bans smoking on sidewalks, streets
Spurred by the impending legalization of marijuana, the Town of Hampstead passed one of the strictest anti-smoking bylaws in Canada on Monday in a 5-2 city council vote.
The new rules are expected to take effect within a week.
The final draft of the bylaw was presented at a special council meeting and says that smoking – of both tobacco and cannabis – will not be allowed on any municipal property, including streets and sidewalks.
The law doesn’t extend to e-cigarettes.
Fines for violations will range from $250 for a first-time offense to $500 for repeat offenders.
Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg, one of the leading champions of the bylaw, said federal legislation legalizing marijuana, which is expected to come as soon as this summer, made the measure necessary, as well as health concerns for non-smokers.
“It’s very necessary, it’s going to help protect our residents from second hand smoke,” he said. “It’s going to help not set a bad example by having people smoking cigarettes or joints on the street, influencing young people. We feel these reasons are far more important than any minimal restriction on freedom.”
Erin Prosk, a spokesperson for medicinal marijuana clinic Sante Cannabis, said the law could negatively affect people with serious illnesses.
"Many patients require medical cannabis to be inhaled to treat their symptoms and they'll need to be able to do that, whether they're in their own home or out in the community," she said. "This is something that will impact them."
While other municipalities in Canada have enacted anti-smoking regulations that pertain to areas like public parks, Hampstead’s bylaw is unique in that it extends to sidewalks and streets. City Councillor Warren Budning said he had hoped the restrictions in the final draft would be rolled back.
“I was hoping the draft proposal would be amended so we could remove sidewalks and roads from it, but that didn’t end up happening,” he said. “I just feel at the end of the day, our residents elected us to create realistic legislation.”
Not everyone at the meeting was in support of the new rules. Resident Jeffrey Frank said the measure would affect those who live in apartments with smoker neighbours.
“In Hampstead, they have it completely backwards,” he said. “They’re putting smokers behind that line. And when my neighbours smoke in the driveway or downstairs within that boundary, I smell it and I think their idea stinks.”