Canadians Want Smoke-free Parks According To New National Poll

Published: August 13, 2021

Canadians Want Smoke-free Parks According To New National Poll

Two out of three Canadians (63%) support banning smoking in national, provincial and municipal parks based on a new national online survey of 1,509 respondents conducted by Leger Research.

“These results reveal that Canadians want all levels of government to make parks and recreation spaces smoke-free” said Les Hagen, Executive Director of Action on Smoking & Health (ASH Canada). “Smoke-free parks protect children and youth from exposure to public smoking and vaping and they protect these precious environments from litter and wildfires.  People and parks deserve full protection from the serious hazards of public smoking.”

“It’s time for the federal government to follow the lead of British Columbia, New Brunswick and the dozens of municipalities that have already created smoke-free parks,” said Angeline Webb, Co-chair of the Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta. “All provincial and municipal governments also need to take immediate action to create uniform, national protection.”

“Careless disposal of smoking material is a  significant cause of wildfires and a  major source of litter in parks and recreation spaces” said Cynthia Callard, Executive Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.  “Governments should be taking every possible step to preserve our parks and to prevent wildfire destruction of these precious ecological environments.  Wildfires are also a major source of air pollution and may now exceed motor vehicle pollution as a public health threat according to new research.”

One of Canada’s most notorious wildfires—the 2003 McLure fire in central British Columbia—was caused by the careless disposal of smoking material. The organizations represented in this news release are sending letters to all environment ministers across Canada urging them to implement policy in public parks that prohibit the consumption of combustible smoking in all park areas with the exception of campsites by 2022.

“Children and youth who are exposed to smoking are more likely to become smokers themselves” Hagen added. “We should be promoting the healthy enjoyment of our parks and not exposing youth to the most deadly form of substance misuse in public recreation spaces. Modeling is an essential element of childhood development and repeated exposure to smoking is a significant risk factor for youth initiation.  Kids deserve full protection from smoking and vaping in all public places and we encourage all levels of government to make public parks smoke-free.”

The Leger survey question was: “To what extent do you agree or disagree that smoking (smoking or vaping of any substance including tobacco, nicotine and cannabis) should be banned in all municipal, provincial and national parks?”.  A majority of respondents in all regions supported the proposal with fewer than 30% of respondents opposing the measure.

Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of disease, disability and premature death in Canada, claiming almost 50,000 lives annually.  One in every two long-term smokers will die from tobacco use.