POLL: FOUR OUT OF FIVE EDMONTONIANS SUPPORT A SMOKING BAN IN PARKS

Edmonton – The vast majority of Edmonton residents support a smoking ban in city parks with children’s amenities, according to a new Leger Research poll of 425 residents commissioned by the Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta. The survey reveals that 80 percent of respondents support the proposed bylaw to ban the smoking and vaping of tobacco and cannabis in children’s parks.

The poll follows last week’s decision by City Council to stall the passage of a new bylaw to ban tobacco and cannabis smoking and vaping in all city parks with children’s amenities. The bylaw was approved on July 10 and rescinded on July 11 by city councillors who wanted to solicit more public feedback prior to its final passage.

“The vast majority of Edmontonians want City Council to approve the smoke-free parks bylaw prior to cannabis legalization” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking & Health. “This poll gives Council the green light to protect children and youth from the smoking and vaping of harmful drugs in City parks. This survey should remove any remaining doubt on City Council that this bylaw will be broadly supported by a strong majority of Edmonton residents. We urge Council to approve this bylaw prior to cannabis legalization to help preserve the quality of life in this city—especially among our youngest residents”.

The survey question was “Edmonton City Council is considering a bylaw to ban the smoking and vaping of tobacco and cannabis in all city parks with children’s amenities such as playgrounds, sports fields, and splash pools. Do you support or oppose this bylaw?”. The online poll was conducted between July 13 and 17 and is considered to be accurate to within 5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The support was strong among all age groups, and among residents of various income and education levels.

“Children and youth deserve full protection from harmful drug use in all public recreation spaces that are frequented by kids” said Kayla Atkey of the Alberta Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention. “It is very reassuring to know that there is strong public support for this objective and we urge City Council to approve this bylaw when it comes back for consideration on September 19. We are very concerned about the potential renormalization of smoking that could result from cannabis legalization. We can’t allow cannabis legalization to reverse or impede several decades of progress in reducing tobacco use”.

The coalition believes that smoking in parks contradicts the City’s Breathe parks strategy and its worthy wellness objectives. A number of major Canadian cities have already banned smoking in parks including Vancouver, Victoria, Regina, Saskatoon, Windsor, Hamilton and Ottawa. Several Alberta cities have done the same including Wood Buffalo/Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat and Okotoks.

“City Council needs to be consistent in its efforts to improve the quality of life in Edmonton. By allowing the smoking and vaping of cannabis and tobacco in parks, Council is contradicting the Breathe parks strategy and the city’s ambitions to become global Health City” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society. “We urge City Council to stay the course on the proposed smoking bylaw and to ensure that parks and public events remain family-friendly following cannabis legalization. Council needs to ensure that cannabis legalization will not impact the quality of life in Edmonton by renormalizing public smoking and exposing more children and youth to harmful drug use.”

Tobacco kills 55 times more Canadians than cannabis according to new data released by the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse and Addiction. 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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