Parents like proposed curbs on outdoor smoking

Parents have enough to worry about when their children are outside playing — and some East York parents are pleased that soon there may be one less hazard: second-hand smoke.

Toronto Public Health has proposed extending a city-wide smoking ban to some outdoor spaces, including playgrounds and sports fields. While some of these areas have designated smoking rules already in place, a ban to make them all smoke-free is in the works.

Julie Amoroso, a research consultant with Toronto Public Health, says that the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA) bans smoking on school property and grounds, which means that all sports fields and playgrounds on public and private school property must be smoke-free. But the SFOA allows municipalities to pass their own smoking bylaws.

“Since 2009, Toronto has had a bylaw that prohibits smoking within nine metres of a playground, wading pool or splash pad at the High Park Zoo and at animal farms operated by Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division,” Amoroso said. “Smoking is not banned in other areas of Toronto’s parks, such as near sports fields.”

The current regulation already puts smokers at a distance from the areas where children play, but there are still issues with these bylaws. Mercella, an East York resident and mom who lives near Westwood Middle School, said she hopes that the ban will pass, because she still has to tell her young daughter not to pick up cigarette butts from the ground.

“Sometimes you find in the playgrounds things that you don’t want to find, and you don’t want your kids to pick up, so even if its nine metres away from the playground they still pick it up,” Mercella said. “I have to ask my daughter to leave the garbage on the floor because she will pick up a butt not knowing what that is.”

Not only are some East York parents worried about their kids picking up butts off the ground, they are concerned for the health of their children. Another East York mom, Kerry, said she thinks that smokers shouldn’t be smoking where a large group of people are nearby.

“It’s bothersome to them, it doesn’t smell nice, it blows right in their face and it’s bad for them,” Kerry said.

Marcella added that there is a need for more rules and regulations.

The Toronto’s Parks and Environment Committee will consider a report on the issue of the smoking ban in city parks on Oct. 23.