Nova Scotia Restricts
Tobacco in Most Public Places
In May, 2002, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed one of Canada's most inclusive laws restricting public exposure to tobacco smoke. "An Act to Protect Young Persons and Other Persons from Tobacco Smoke " represents a significant step forward in the fight against tobacco in Nova Scotia. The act comes into effect January 1, 2003. "As one element of the province's comprehensive tobacco strategy, this legislation will play a significant role in reducing smoking rates and the burden of tobacco-related illness," says Dr. Robert Strang, President Smoke-Free Nova Scotia.
The legislation is the fruit of many years work by the members of Smoke-Free Nova Scotia. Smoke-Free Nova Scotia is a coalition of individuals, organizations and professional associations who care about the health and well being of Nova Scotians.
The Act provides for a province-wide ban on smoking in many public places and some workplaces. Schools, malls, taxis, theatres, recreational facilities and offices of a municipality, village, school board or the Government Nova Scotia are all included in the smoking ban. In addition, municipalities are encouraged to enact more restrictive by-laws.
In other workplaces, smoking is only permitted indoors in a designated smoking room that is enclosed and separately ventilated so that tobacco contaminated air does not enter the general air stream of the building. Youth under 19 years of age are not permitted to enter the smoking room.
In restaurants, smoking is similarly permitted in a designated smoking room that is enclosed and separately ventilated. The designated smoking room cannot comprise more than 25% of a restaurant's seating area. Again, youth under 19 years of age are not permitted to enter the smoking room. Smoking on restaurant patios is restricted to 50% of the patio seating. Any restaurant is free to choose to be 100% smoke free.
In beverage rooms and lounges between
6 a.m. and 9 p.m. smoking is permitted
In bingo halls and private clubs open to youth under 19, smoking is permitted only in a designated smoking room that is enclosed and separately ventilated and off limits to youth under 19.
In psychiatric facilities, nursing homes or residential care facilities or parts of a health-care facility used for the acute or long-term care of veterans smoking is permitted in indoor rooms that are separately enclosed and separately ventilated and off limits to youth under the age of nineteen years.
The Act falls short of the complete
ban advocated by Smoke Free Nova Scotia,
By emphasizing the protection of persons under 19, the Act does not take a clear position on the health hazards of exposure to tobacco smoke to people of all ages, including pregnant women. It also fails to protect all workers equally from the harmful toxins carried in tobacco smoke.
Under the new legislation, it will be
illegal for youth under 19 to possess tobacco. A peace officer may confiscate
tobacco from anyone under the age of 19, but will not charge them with
an offence. This measure draws attention away from the industry's
predatory practices targeting young smokers. Smoking among young people
is a public health issue, not a delinquency one. Making tobacco use and
possession illegal for people under 19 may make smoking even more attractive
for some young people. This type of law is of questionable value.
From 1908 to 1993, federal law made the possession of tobacco by children
under the age of 16 illegal. During this period the smoking rate for minors
fluctuated widely, rising to over 50% in 1974. This type of restriction
indirectly implies that for those over 19, smoking is
Smoke Free Nova Scotia believes one
of the most effective ways to discourage
The province of Nova Scotia's smoking rate is now higher than the national average. Each year in Nova Scotia, tobacco kills 1,650 smokers and 200 non-smokers die from cancer caused by exposure to second-hand smoke.
Secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory illnesses. Secondhand smoke also causes sudden infant death syndrome and impairs fetal growth. In addition, secondhand smoke has been linked to stroke, cervical and breast cancer, and miscarriages. Secondhand smoke has also been linked to impaired cognitive and behavioural development in children.
Treating tobacco-related illnesses costs
the provincial health care system
With this Act, Nova Scotia joins British
Columbia and Newfoundland and