MANITOBA PROVINCIAL PARKS FIRST IN CANADA TO HAVE SMOKE-FREE PUBLIC BEACHES, CHILDREN'S PLAYGROUNDS
– – – Visitors, Environment Will Benefit from Less Litter, Cleaner Air: Mackintosh, Rondeau
The hundreds of thousands of Manitoba families and tourists who visit Manitoba’s parks each year will be able to enjoy smoke-free public beaches and playgrounds beginning in the summer of 2014, Water Stewardship and Conservation Gord Mackintosh and Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau announced today.
“Our beaches are internationally recognized as some of the best in the country. Making our public park beaches smoke free is about continuing to protect these natural treasures,” said Mackintosh. “Smoking litter is a nuisance to park users and the environment. Like many other parents, I want to stop cigarette butts from ending up in our waterways, along our beaches and in the playgrounds where we take our kids.”
Litter from tobacco products has been proven to be toxic, slow to decompose and costly to manage. Research shows littered cigarette butts leach toxic chemicals and can take decades to breakdown, Mackintosh said.
Manitoba is the first jurisdiction in Canada to make public beaches and playgrounds smoke free in all of its parks, though some American states including California and Hawaii have had smoke-free parks and beaches for years.
“Our government was first to bring in a provincewide smoking ban in enclosed public places and workplaces almost a decade ago and I am proud we are continuing to lead the country in protecting our citizens from the dangers of smoking,” said Rondeau. “Smoke-free areas in our parks set a good example for our children and remind us all that our parks are places where healthy living takes place through recreational activities and enjoying the great outdoors.”
Research shows that second-hand smoke, even in an outdoor setting, can lead to the same health problems as direct smoking including lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung ailments such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma. The long-term effects can affect the health of those exposed and create additional health-care and environmental costs, Rondeau said.
“Second-hand smoke contains more than 170 toxic substances and 67 known carcinogens from which the public should be protected,” said Murray Gibson of the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA). “We at MANTRA are fully supportive of this action to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.”
Mackintosh said park officials will enforce the smoke-free policy with $299 fines for violators, though for the first year they will only issue warnings. Smoke-free signs and cigarette disposal receptacles will be ordered and installed in preparation for 2014.
Mackintosh also said the smoke-free policy is part of a soon-to-be-released Parks Strategy that includes a variety of dedicated initiatives for making parks Gateways to Healthier Living, adding when the full strategy is announced, Manitobans will be invited to share their suggestions on additional ways to improve the provincial parks including options for expanding parks’ smoke-free areas.