Publicly smoking cannabis or vaping will now be treated under the same bylaw as tobacco in the Capital Regional District.
The CRD board approved the amendment to the Clean Air bylaw at its April 11 meeting, after a proposal made by Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island chief medical health officer.
The bylaw prohibits people from smoking tobacco in any public place, building or structure, in any area where food and drinks are served, within seven metres of any door, window, air intake, bus stop, or at any athletic parks, fields, or playgrounds.
“Smoke is smoke, and while tobacco may have 50 established cancer-causing agents, marijuana smoke can have as many as 33. In terms of vaping, it too can carry cancer causing agents, sometimes in greater amounts than tobacco,” said Stanwick.
“I know people want to describe it as merely water vapour, but it isn’t, it’s a chemical soup being put in to the air, varying from product to product. So both cannabis and vape smoke can be hazardous to health.”
Stanwick said now is a good time to discuss this issue, as marijuana is set to be legalized by September. He said having all forms of smoke fall under the same bylaw will simplify enforcement for both the public and officers.
“Once something gets established, it’s harder to stop someone from doing something than to get them used to an idea ahead of time,” said Stanwick. “This way it will be very simple and straight forward, instead of having to smell the air and say ‘oh that’s smoke is okay here,’ or ‘oh no that smoke isn’t okay in this area.’”
Island Health will be continuing to educate and spread awareness about the changes to the bylaw through the spring and summer months. People who fail to comply with the new bylaw, are subject to being fined.
“Amending the CRD bylaw is the logical next step in bringing provincial and local regulations into alignment,” said CRD board chair Steve Price in a press release.
“As community leaders of the day, today we need to follow the good work that the leaders before us established with the current clean air bylaw.”
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Risks may include asbestos and chemical or biological contamination, among others