Flin Flon city council will consider a new bylaw that could restrict smoking on Main Street and address the eyesore of discarded cigarette butts.
Mayor Cal Huntley said council would try to review the potential bylaw with the Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce and possibly provide an update at the July 18 council meeting.
He had no specifics to share because the bylaw remains in draft form, but he said it would “address some of the options” outlined in a letter from concerned elementary school students.
In their letter to council, the grade 6 Ruth Betts Community School students questioned why smoking is allowed near building entrances on Main Street.
They suggested making Main Street smoke-free or, failing that, banning smoking within five metres of building entrances, ensuring cigarette butts are cleaned up on a weekly basis and/or adding more smoking receptacles.
“It’s going to address some of the options that the elementary kids threw out at us,” Huntley said in reference to the potential bylaw. “I mean, they were pretty close to what the options are and so it’s just whether, is it all Main Street? Is it a piece of Main Street? It is any of Main Street? We need to talk to the chamber, though. It’s a business thing and we want them to be involved in whatever happens at the end of the day.”
Asked whether the bylaw might apply only to Main Street or to businesses elsewhere, Huntley said that is not yet clear.
“We’re looking at that right now. That’s been a concern area and it was reiterated when we got this letter [from the students],” he said.
Some residents have long complained about walking through clouds of secondhand smoke on Main Street. There is currently no bylaw restricting smoking near building entrances.
Mark Kolt, chief administrative officer for the city, said he saw nothing related to smoking near entrances in the province’s Non-Smokers Health Protection Act, either.
The students who wrote to council form what they call the Grade 6 Hershmiller Ruth Betts Community School Tobacco Tackle Team.
“…we are writing to you because we are concerned about the commercial tobacco use on Main Street,” read the letter, signed by 14 students and their teacher, Valerie Hershmiller.
“We had…discussed smoking on Main Street and if tobacco threatens the health of community members as well as cigarette butts being an environmental concern. Why are we allowing tobacco use near entrances of buildings? ...we would like to know if it is possible to make Main Street a smoke-free area?
“We are hoping that if this is not possible at this time that you would consider other options. One of them being a bylaw requiring smokers to be five metres away from a building entrance. Other considerations could be cigarette butts cleaned up on a weekly basis and/or more receptacles to deposit the butts.”
The students noted they decided to clean up cigarette butts located around the Flin Flon General Hospital entrance.