Iqaluit anti-smoking bylaw squeaks through

Councillors divided on toughness of bylaw



After the smoke finally settled at Iqaluit city council this week, councillors put aside their differences and passed a bylaw outlawing smoking in most public areas.

With the exception of bars, or places restricted to people over the age of 18, smoking will be illegal in any public gathering place, including municipal and federal buildings, and within three metres of any public entranceway, beginning April 15.

The fine for smoking in a public place will be $100, and proprietors who turn a blind eye will be fined $250. Contravention by a proprietor on a continuous basis will cost the owner $300 per day, and smoking within three metres of any public entranceway will earn the offender a $75 fine.

A lengthy discussion preceded the passage of the bylaw including one councillor’s lengthy account of her efforts to stop smoking.

Councillor Lynda Gunn spoke at length about her struggle to quit 14 months ago and life as a “smoking survivor.” Although she helped get the bylaw through, she says she would like to see smoking outlawed in all public areas, including bars.

She also urged her fellow councillors and Mayor John Matthews to do more than just pass a bylaw to put and end to smoking. She suggested council also get involved in Health Canada’s Tobacco Control Programme to help smokers quit once and for all.

A final vote on the bylaw was further stalled by Deputy Mayor Kirt Ejesiak, who moved to have the acceptable distance for smoking near a public entranceway increased from three metres to 10 metres.

“This will make it a stronger bylaw and send a stronger message to our community,” Ejesiak said.

But Councillor Stu Kennedy scoffed at the suggestion, which council had debated at its last meeting two weeks before, finally resolving to change the distance from 10 metres to three metres.

“Ten metres takes a person halfway across the parking lot,” a frustrated Kennedy said.

“Three metres takes them off the step and out of the way. Let’s be reasonable.”

Had Ejesiak been successful at revisiting the distance issue it would have sent the bylaw back to a second reading, delaying the final vote for another two weeks.

Mayor Matthews expressed his concern that, regardless of the reason for a delay, stalling the issue any further will send a message to the public that council still hasn’t passed the bylaw.

When Ejesiak couldn’t get unanimous support from council to re-vote on the distance issue, he dropped the matter altogether.

In the end, all six councillors present voted unanimously to pass the new bylaw.

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