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Changes proposed for smoke-free by-law

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

As cannabis stores in Oshawa and Ajax prepare to open regional council is looking to update Durham’s smoke free by-law.

There was a previous attempt in January to urge the province to amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to include a clause that bans all use of cannabis from public places, but issues surrounding human rights and medicinal cannabis use were brought forth by members of the health and social services committee.

The initial motion was brought forth by Oshawa Ward 3 regional councillor Bob Chapman and Whitby regional councillor Elizabeth Roy.

Now changes to the region’s by-law, which passed in late 2002, and was most recently amended in 2007, has been brought forward to the region’s health and social services committee.

In his motion to council, Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham’s commissioner and medical officer of health, says there are a number of new products available for consumption, using different methods such vaping. Kyle notes there has been an increase in the variety of equipment and apparatuses used by individuals when engaging in these activities.

Most notably, the motion takes note of the legalization of cannabis in October 2018, and several changes to provincial and federal legislation pertaining to tobacco use and other prescribed products.

Some proposed changes to the by-law include removal of sections considered no longer applicable, adding sections which address new forms of smoking or vaping, and referencing accompanying equipment which is now available to either smoke or vape cannabis, tobacco, or other prescribed products.

It will also include an expanded list of locations where smoking is prohibited, such as college and university campuses, and regional and municipal buildings.

The amendment will also prohibit the use of water pipes and hookahs in the areas where smoking is also prohibited.

Finally, the amendment will allow for by-law enforcement throughout the region by a variety of designated officers.

Discussion about changes to the by-law began in July 2018, and the region discussed the matter with multiple stakeholders including Durham College, Ontario Tech University, and Trent University Durham GTA.

The Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, Durham Regional Police Service, hookah lounge operators, and others were also consulted.

A proposed copy of the amended smoke-free by-law has received endorsements from Oshawa, Ajax, Brock and Uxbridge.

The new by-law will now head to committee of the whole for approval.