In December 2014, the Town of Hampton showed tobacco-free living leadership by implementing a policy restricting the use of tobacco on all town-owned property, including parks, trails and outdoor spaces around the Hampton Community Centre.
Deputy Mayor Robert Doucet says he was first concerned about his community’s smoking habits when the town started receiving citizens’ complaints about people smoking on the playgrounds. Another common place smokers were often seen was just outside the ice rink’s doors – where of course many kids come in and out.
The complaints were brought to the town’s Leisure Services Advisory committee, and the idea of pursuing a policy restricting smoking was born. The committee decided to look at what other municipalities had in place and how this could be enforced, and proceeded from there.
“What we came up with is a self-policing policy,” says Doucet. “Now that it is in place, we hope citizens will be on the lookout and discourage each other from breaking the rules. We certainly won’t be shy about asking smokers to butt out. ”
The policy states: “No person shall use any form of tobacco at or on any Town-owned or operated facility. This includes the Hampton Community Centre complex, ball fields, parks, trails, tennis courts, basketball courts, playgrounds and other properties owned/operated by the Town of Hampton.”
Tobacco products included in the ban are cigarettes, cigars, pipes, cigarillos, tobacco chew, plug, snuff, hookah, bidis, kreteks and electronic smoking devices.
Doucet says he’s received lots of positive comments since the policy was voted in. “Sure, we’ve had a bit of disgruntle from employees who were worried they would lose out on their smoke break by not being able to smoke outside in certain areas. But they’ll be held accountable to the policy, same as everyone else. Ultimately, it’s just not acceptable to be polluting someone else’s air with second-hand smoke. It’s a matter of respecting each other and making sure our citizens can enjoy our facilities, and, overall, a better quality of life. It certainly helps that nowadays, most people see smoking in a negative light.”
This is good news considering that even in an outdoor setting, second-hand smoke can be hazardous*. Depending on conditions such as wind speed and the number and proximity of smokers, non-smokers can be exposed to as much second-hand smoke as if they were indoors. There are many benefits to having smoke-free outdoor spaces, and the New Brunswick Anti-Tobacco Coalition can help you learn more here.
Doucet says the decision to implement a smoking ban was not just health-related. “No one likes seeing cigarette butts on the ground; it pollutes the environment. Plus, we don’t want our kids to take up smoking. With this new policy, we are protecting them from being exposed to dangerous second-hand smoke and we’re being positive role models.”
The real test will come this spring and summer, as warmer temperatures will surely encourage many to take advantage of the town’s parks and outdoor facilities. The Town’s strategy includes ensuring that there are tobacco-free signs on town property to remind people not to smoke or leave the premises to smoke. There will also be much emphasis on public promotion and educational initiatives.
“We don’t want to go overboard with signage, and we’re really trusting our citizens to be compliant and respect this new policy. We’ll be doing a lot of public education at first and we’ll see how things go. We’re definitely not going to give up; this new policy is good for our town and it’s here to stay.”
He adds that policy speaks a lot about the values and quality of life in his community.
“We have a beautiful town square where we host all kinds of events, and the new smoke-free policy will make it even more family-friendly. We are a small town; we have a close connection to our citizens and we care a lot about them. This is a great way to showcase that.”
* Source: Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (2013). OTRU Update- Protection from Outdoor Smoking. [online]. 10 Sept. 2013. http://otru.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/
Photos courtesy of the Town of Hampton.
Published in May 2015
By Nathalie Landry – NBATC Communications Coordinator