By Schnarr, J.W. on August 10, 2018.
A ban on public smoking in Lethbridge would have a greater impact on low-income residents, according to a spokesperson for a U.S.-based anti-regulation lobby group.
David Clement, North American Affairs Manager for Consumer Choice Centre, issued a statement Thursday in response to Tuesday’s presentation by Action on Smoking and Health to city council in regards to the idea of banning smoking in public spaces and at public events where children are present.
“Prohibiting public consumption for cannabis tobacco or vaping hurts low-income residents because, traditionally, they rent their homes,” he said during a phone interview on Thursday from Toronto. “So they are not allowed to use those products in their own home.”
He noted bans in public spaces and during events where children are present could further limit the ability of low-income residents to use legal products. This, at the same time legal indoor commercial consumption of the products is also illegal.
“If you rent, the space in which you can consume these products in your own community is becoming more limited with each day,” he said. “Our worry is that this disproportionately impacts the poor, but there is a growing trend among cities and towns to implement bans like this, and those bans end up becoming worse. They become blanket bans on all outdoor consumption of these legal products.”
While one of the stated goals of ASH is to protect children from exposure to smoking, a ban could involve situations where no children are present.
An example could be a person walking their dog in a park in the evening, when they are alone, and they want to smoke or vape while they are walking. This behaviour could still be banned under such a bylaw, in spite of the action affecting no one.
“What they ultimately end up doing, is, in the name of children – which is certainly a valid concern – they end up trampling on the rights of adults,” he said. “I think that’s a problem.”
Clement also said lumping vaping and smoking together when vaping is sometimes used as a smoking cessation aid is “absolutely ridiculous.”
“It’s completely inappropriate to treat vaping as smoking, given that we know vaping is an effective harm-reduction tool for those trying to quit,” he said.
“I really hope that (council) will consider the rights of adults here. We’re all concerned about smoking around any children, whether that be tobacco or cannabis, but we have to respect the rights of adults. Any bylaw created should thoroughly understand these are legal products and we’re talking about adult consumers.
“Don’t trample on the rights of adults. Don’t trample on the rights of consumers trying to use less-risky harm-reduction tools like vaping.”
Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government recently delayed a number of laws put in place by the previous government in that province. Among those laws were rules which would have regulated vaping to bring the behaviour more in line with smoking.
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