Township ponders smoking restrictions near new facility

 A public health official has recommended there be no smoking within 9 metres of the new multi-use recreational facility (MURF) on Brock Road.

Dora Eaglesham, a nurse with Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health, told council last week there is “no safe level” of second hand smoke, and outdoor concentrations can be as bad as those indoors.

She explained that second hand smoke has a bigger im­pact on seniors, pregnant women, and children, and 30 seconds is enough exposure to lead to a heart attack for those with a history of health problems.

Eaglesham said many other larger municipalities have al­ready instituted a ban on smoking within 9 metres of public buildings, which she said helps promote a healthy lifestyle.

Councillor Susan Fielding asked if there was already a by­law in place in?Wellington County and Eaglesham replied the county has one but it does not apply to township-owned buildings.

Councillor Don McKay said it is “a commendable idea” but considering that people usually smoke directly outside township buildings, he wondered if people would avoid the building if they were forced to smoke farther away.

Eaglesham said that never happens in other communities. In fact, she said officials usually receive few complaints and most smokers comply with the bylaw.

“Most people are very law abiding,” she said.

She noted Puslinch soccer already uses a no smoking rule along the sidelines, and said she suspects locals will abide by the rule at the new MURF.

McKay said it might make sense to make the entire complex – including the MURF, ball diamonds, soccer field and library – a non-smoking area, but he wondered where smokers would then have to go to have a cigarette.

Fielding said the township might also want to consider prohibiting smoking in other areas as well, and even go farther than the 9 metre limit identified by Eaglesham.

Mayor Brad Whitcombe thanked Eaglesham for the presentation and said council would forward the recommendation to the township’s recreation committee as well.