January 20, 2011 - Alberta is among four provinces and two territories that haven't made it illegal for drivers to smoke in vehicles carrying children under the age of 18. All provinces have laws prohibiting smoking in public places. However, only six provinces and the Yukon territory have legislation banning smoking in vehicles with children.
"It's unfortunate to see Alberta falling behind on tobacco when even our neighbours, British Columbia (B.C.) and Saskatchewan, have moved forward with legislation," said Ashley Jensen, the cancer society's regional community engagement co-ordinator. "This is about protecting kids from preventable death, disease and disability." British Columbia (B.C.) brought in regulations in 2009 and Saskatchewan in 2010.
Directly related news brief:
January 15, 2011 - This is a FACT: Children's exposure to second-hand smoke is dangerous, especially in cars..
The Canadian Cancer Society says children exposed to tobacco smoke face an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infection, middle ear disease and an increased severity of asthma.
Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky wasn't available for comment Tuesday, January 18th but Howard May, spokesman for Alberta Health and Wellness, said municipalities are free to develop their own bylaws. "We have no plans to bring forward any amendments to the Tobacco Reduction Act at this time," said May.
Two Alberta communities have bylaws against smoking in vehicles with kids. Okotoks passed its legislation in 2008, and Leduc's bylaw takes effect in July. Leduc Mayor Greg Krischke said the cancer society sparked the regulation change during a Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference last year in Toronto.
For the health of your children it is important to have this law on the books but it is also important to enforce the law. Alberta is second-worst in Canada when it comes to refusing tobacco sales to teenagers.
Where is Les Hagen, executive director for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), when you need him??
Reference: Cancer society calls for Alberta-wide ban on smoking in cars with children by Lea Story (firstname.lastname@example.org), Calgary Herald, 1/19/2011. (kids, child, teen, youngster)