Amendment to the Smoke Free
Environment Act: March 28, 2011
Health and Community Services March 28, 2011

Amendment Will Further Protect Children and Workers from Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

An amendment to the Smoke Free Environment Act will help ensure greater protection of children and workers in Newfoundland and Labrador from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services, introduced the amendment to the legislation in the House of Assembly today. Once it is proclaimed there will be a provincial ban on smoking in cars when children under the age of 16 are present, as well as a ban on designated smoking rooms in workplaces.

“The Provincial Government is continuing to bring forth legislation to help protect residents of this province, especially children, from the exposure of secondhand smoke,” said Minister Kennedy. “We have heard from many parents, the public and stakeholders on the desire to have this legislation put in place and we feel that it is prudent and in the best interest of all people that we continue to address ways to limit environmental tobacco smoke exposure.”

The amendment continues to build on previous initiatives brought forth by the Provincial Government to help reduce tobacco consumption and secondhand smoke exposure. Previous amendments to the Smoke Free Environment Act in 2002 and 2005 saw smoking banned in places such as bars, decks, bingo halls, restaurants and other indoor public buildings. On January 1, 2010 amendments to the Tobacco Control Act came into effect, restricting how tobacco can be displayed and promoted in retail stores.

“We recognize that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and children are especially vulnerable,” said Minister Kennedy. “Children who breathe in secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer health problems such as asthma, bronchitis and middle ear infections. Environmental tobacco smoke has been shown to be linked to lung cancer, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. This government is committed to reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, especially in areas where people have no control over their environment, like children riding in cars.”

It is intended that the amendment will come into effect on July 1, 2011. At that time the operator of the motor vehicle will be subject to fines ranging from $50 to $500 when smoking in vehicles where children under the age of 16 are present. Designated smoking rooms in workplaces will be eliminated and employers not in compliance could be fined $500 to $5,000.

The Provincial Government, through the Provincial Wellness Plan, has focused on the reduction of tobacco throughout the province. Currently 79 per cent of the people aged 15 and older and 84 per cent of youth aged 15 to 19 are choosing to live smoke-free. In November, the Provincial Cancer Control Policy Framework was released which focuses in part on the prevention of cancer through promoting a healthy population. At the launch of the framework, $50,000 was provided to the Alliance for the Control of Tobacco (ACT) for the development of an online social media campaign to focus on tobacco prevention and cessation that will be targeted at youth and young adults in Newfoundland and Labrador. This was in addition to approximately $415,000 in annual funding provided to ACT and the Newfoundland and Labrador Lung Association’s Provincial Smokers’ Helpline.

Media contacts:
Jennifer Tulk
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 699-6524