Gov't to make youth smoking illegal
The provincial government wonâ€™t totally ban smoking in public places, and if you canâ€™t drink in Nova Scotia, you wonâ€™t be able to smoke either.
Nearly a quarter of a million girls will start smoking in the coming year.Health Minister Jamie Muir is set to introduce anti-smoking legislation today that will make possession of tobacco illegal for anyone younger than 19, putting smoking on a similar legal footing as alcohol, government sources say.
However, the internal debate over the new law continued into yesterday evening when caucus held a final meeting on a smoking ban. Some MLAs were pushing for a total ban on smoking in public places, but thatâ€™s not included in the legislation, the sources said.
Muir wouldnâ€™t talk about the new law, but promised it will be tough.
â€œThe legislation will be the strongest in the country,â€ he said.
The current law makes it illegal for anyone younger than 19 to buy cigarettes. But itâ€™s not illegal for them to smoke. Steve Machat of the Canadian Cancer Society said Newfoundland bans smoking for those under 19.
Up to municipalities
The new law will disappoint anti-smoking advocates because it fails to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, sources said. The government will leave it up to municipalities to decide if itâ€™s OK to light up over dinner or a drink.
The province will require smoking areas to be sealed off from other parts of licensed establishments.
Machat said the cancer society lobbied the government to ban smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces.
He said the Tories will be able to argue they have the strongest anti-tobacco legislation of any province even without such a ban, but the law wonâ€™t look so strict when itâ€™s stacked up against municipalities.
â€œThe leaders, the true leaders in Canada, have been the municipalities,â€ he said.
Halifax Regional Municipality restricted smoking in bars and restaurants in 1999, but stopped short of a complete ban.
Machat said Wolfville, Kentville, Berwick and New Glasgow have moved to 100 per cent bans.
He said other municipalities have waited to see if the province will take the lead. He hopes the new legislation will at least make it easy for towns and cities to ban public smoking.
Muir said a smoking ban isnâ€™t everything. He said the government has also tried to reduce smoking through cigarette price hikes and education.
â€œWeâ€™ve been working on this legislation for a year,â€ Muir said. â€œItâ€™s one part of our tobacco strategy, and, unfortunately, people are just focusing on that at this particular time.â€