Saskatchewan to impose long-awaited workplace smoking ban

Tobacco-control advocates are hoping the workplace smoking ban in Saskatchewan, which takes effect Sunday, will reduce smoking rates in this province.

For three years running Saskatchewan has had the highest smoking rates in the country and the highest youth smoking rate, said Donna Pasiechnik, the Canadian Cancer Society Saskatchewan’s tobacco control co-ordinator.

“That is a big concern to the Canadian Cancer Society, and should be a concern to everyone living in this province, because tobacco use is the No. 1 preventable cause of deaths and sickness in this country,” Ms. Pasiechnik said.

The workplace ban is a first step towards reducing those rates and providing Saskatchewan workers protection against second-hand smoke, she added.

Sunday’s launch of the workplace smoking ban coincides with World No Tobacco Day.

“This is a fitting day to launch a smoking ban to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke (in the workplace),” Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris said in a news release.

The ban is the result of amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations which prohibits smoking in all enclosed places of employment, including buildings, vehicles, other enclosed structures and underground mines.

The only exceptions are: Traditional First Nations and Métis spiritual ceremonies where permission is granted; designated smoking rooms for residents and visitors (such as in special-care homes) that are allowed by the Ministry of Health’s tobacco control legislation; areas of underground mines that are located more than 10 metres from other workers; and some self-employed businesses, vehicles and camp living accommodations with permission and when others are not present.

Initially the focus will be on education with the hope that any complaints can be resolved in the workplace. However if there are ongoing non-compliance issues, the ministry’s OHS investigators will get involved. Notices of contraventions requiring the employer to comply with the ban will be issued and repeated flagrant disregard of the ban could result in charges being laid.

The workplace ban is a first step, Ms. Pasiechnik said, noting that to reduce smoking rates Saskatchewan has to look at a much larger comprehensive tobacco-control plan. The cancer society is currently working with other health groups and the Ministry of Health to develop such a strategy.

“There are a number of measures we would like to see the government adopt, everything from better tobacco taxation policies to placing more restrictions on where people can smoke, including in cars with children,” she said.

© Copyright:  Nationalpost

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