Striving to have a tobacco-free community is not just something the Municipality of Chatham-Kent is wishing for, actions continue to be taken to make it a reality.
With the Chatham-Kent Health Unit taking the lead to rally support, council passed a bylaw banning smoking in public indoor spaces in 2002, four years before the provincial government passed a similar law.
The goal was to reduce the amount of second-hand smoke people were exposed to.
Then the community, led by the health unit, sought to take it to the next level and council passed a bylaw in 2009, banning smoking around entrances to all municipal buildings, and within nine-meters – 30-feet of playgrounds, splash pads and bus shelters.
Dr. April Rietdyk, director of the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, said there is an effort to take it to yet another level.
She said the goal is to see all public-park areas been totally smoke-free including soccer fields and baseball diamonds.
“I think the mood is out there, people don't want their kids exposed to second-hand smoke, so away we go,” Rietdyk said.
She praised municipal council for being progressive in taking the steps it has to try to reduce second-hand smoke in the community.
The municipality is also working on bringing this message to the youth through its CK Tobacco-Free Pledge, led by the Chatham-Kent Community Leaders' Cabinet, co-chaired by Mayor Randy Hope and Gary Switzer, CEO of the Erie-St. Clair Local Health Integration Network.
They delivered a message about the dangers of second-hand smoke to kids in a summer camp program at Kingston Park in Chatham on Wednesday.
Hope believes if an issue is put in a context children can understand “then they will do something about it.”
He pointed to the impact children have had on recycling.
“Recycling is happening in our homes right now because of our kids learning (about it) in school,” Hope said.
“Educate the child, the child will take it home and parents have tendency to listen to their kids,” the mayor added.
Switzer said it's not only important to teach children the dangers of second-hand smoke, it's important to let them know they have a voice and that it's OK for them to speak out against smoking.
He suggests if children are bothered by someone's second-hand smoke, they plug their nose and tell that person it stinks and “we don't want to be around someone that's smoking.”