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Thursday November 14th, 2013

Posted at 9:18pm

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The Essex Region Conservation Authority has adopted a policy to limit smoking in their Conservation Areas.

ERCA says that they will work with the Health Unit to draft a phased-in policy that prohibits smoking in high use areas beginning in the 2014 operating season.

High use areas are defined as Holiday Beach day use and beach area, excluding parking lots and seasonal campsites; Hillman Marsh in all areas utilized for school programs, excluding parking lot, and the John R. Park Homestead, excluding parking lot.

The balance of the Conservation Areas would be included in the policy in 2015. “By using a phased approach, administration will be able to advise the board of public reaction, compliance issues or concerns, and any budgetary impact,” said Kevin Money, ERCA’s Director of Conservation Services.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit states that the exposure levels of outdoor tobacco smoke can be as high as those of indoor secondhand smoke, and can be detected from 7-10 metres away from the source.

“I am happy to hear that ERCA is taking steps towards creating smoke-free outdoor spaces. We will continue to work with ERCA as they move forward in implementing their smoke-free outdoor space policy,” said Dr. G. Allen Heimann, Medical Officer of Health of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

“Like our policies regarding prohibition of alcohol and motorized vehicles in our Conservation Areas, and the policy regarding picking up after your pet, it is anticipated that the most effective way of creating public awareness of this policy is through signage and an outreach program,” Money added. “Signs that remind our guests that smoking is prohibited in our conservation areas will be erected at entrances and other appropriate locations.” As well, over the course of the next year, a significant public awareness campaign will be implemented to raise public awareness and support for the policy. The Health Unit has also offered to assist with expenses associated with this public awareness messaging, including cost of signs and production of outreach materials.

ERCA added that besides health reasons, there are a number of negative environmental impacts associated with cigarette smoke and associated litter.

In 2012, the Town of Lakeshore enacted a total smoking ban in their municipal parks and marinas. In September, the Municipality of Leamington implemented a modified bylaw restricting smoking in outdoor spaces.;

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