Smoking could be banned near all entrances to publicly accessible buildings in Flin Flon as early as mid-October.
City council has approved first reading of a bylaw that would prohibit lighting up within 16 feet of the doorway to any building open to the public.
The bylaw would encompass all businesses, churches and public institutions, a scope far beyond council’s initial focus of Main Street.
While council had considered variations of the bylaw, in the end Mayor Cal Huntley said, “We decided to keep it simple.”
Huntley previously cited secondhand smoke and the eyesore of discarded cigarette butts as rationale for smoking restrictions.
The business community appears largely on board with the proposed regulation.
The Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce surveyed its members on an earlier version of the bylaw that would have banned smoking within 15 feet of most businesses as well as on the street, sidewalk and road allowance located on or adjoining Main Street.
Over 90 per cent of businesses that responded to the survey were in favour of that concept.
Dianne Russell, chamber president, said a small percentage of businesses raised concerns around ensuring smokers can take smoke breaks without being fined or forced to stand in a puddle in a back alley.
Some businesses also wanted to see a proactive plan to make sure cigarette butts would not simply accumulate 16 feet away from business entrances, she said.
“We don’t want to criminalize people. We’re just trying to control litter and health, basically,” Russell said.
If approved, the bylaw could be enforced by either the RCMP or the city bylaw enforcement officer, though Coun. Ken Pawlachuk expects some level of business participation.
“I think what it will be [is], some of the businesses on Main Street are probably going to enforce it if they have something to enforce,” he said. “And I don’t think people are going to get dragged off to jail [for smoking].”
The bylaw covers cigarettes and chewing tobacco, but not e-cigarettes.
Huntley said he would lobby to include e-cigarettes before the bylaw potentially takes effect.
“In my mind, and it’s just my mind, smoking is smoking. It’s the same thing,” he said.
“We’ll have that discussion. I’ll certainly be pushing for [vaping] to be treated the same, but I’m only one vote.”
The bylaw could come into force as early as Oct. 10, when final reading is scheduled. Pawlachuk moved first reading of the bylaw at council’s Tuesday, Sept. 19 meeting.
Coun. Guy Rideout seconded the motion, and all councillors present – Tim Babcock, Bill Hanson and Karen MacKinnon were absent – were in favour.