EDMONTON TO BECOME THE NEW AMSTERDAM OF CANNABIS CONSUMPTION?

News Release - Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta

Edmonton is poised to become the new Amsterdam of cannabis consumption if City Council approves proposed Bylaw 18397, according to information provided by officials from Alberta Health Services.

In a panel presentation to the City’s Community and Public Services Committee on Wednesday, several Alberta Health Services officials and public health organizations urged City Council to refrain from approving the proposed bylaw.  The draft bylaw represents the most liberal cannabis rules proposed by any major Canadian city.

“The proposed bylaw will allow for widespread smoking and vaping of cannabis and tobacco throughout the city with very few restrictions” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking & Health.  “Although the bylaw will align restrictions on the smoking or vaping of tobacco and cannabis, many children and youth will still be exposed to these harmful drug use in city parks and public events.  The bylaw could undermine decades of progress in creating more smoke-free public areas and in reducing the social acceptability of smoking.”

“We urge City Council to amend the proposed bylaw to prohibit the smoking and vaping of any substance in city parks and at outdoor events. However we support the creation of discreet smoking and vaping areas at public events that aren’t visible to children” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society.  “If passed as drafted, we fear that the proposed bylaw will renormalize public smoking and increase youth tobacco use.  Smoke-free environments are a cornerstone of tobacco reduction and we cannot allow decades of progress in to go up in smoke”.

Health groups contend that the proposed bylaw contradicts the City’s parks strategy--titled Breathe--and one of the City’s main guiding principles on cannabis legalization--drug, alcohol and tobacco-free youth.

“To a five-year-old smoking is smoking whether it involves tobacco, cannabis, cigarettes, joints, or vaping” said Kayla Atkey of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention.  “Modeling is an essential element of childhood development.  We need to model healthy behaviours if we expect to create healthy kids.  If passed without amendments, the proposed bylaw may increase tobacco and cannabis use among youth”.

The coalition is urging City Council to apply the brakes to the current draft bylaw and to send it back to administration for amendments to prohibit smoking and vaping at all parks and public events with allowances for discreet smoking areas.  The delayed legalization of cannabis provides City Council with more time to get the bylaw right.

The municipalities of Lloydminster, Camrose and Wood Buffalo/Fort McMurray are preparing to ban the smoking and vaping of cannabis and tobacco at all parks, public events, and other public spaces.

A 2016 public opinion poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid revealed that 88 percent of Edmonton respondents supported a complete smoking ban in all public places accessible to children and youth.

Tobacco kills 55 times more Canadians than cannabis according to new data released by the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse.  Any increase in tobacco and cannabis consumption could have serious consequences for public health.

The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is a coalition of prominent health organizations that are working to reduce tobacco use in Alberta.

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Contact:
Les Hagen at 780-919-5546
Angeline Webb at 780-239-5295
Kayla Atkey at 780-492-0493

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