Manitoba will ban smoking at provincial park beaches and playgrounds beginning in the summer of 2014, Water Stewardship and Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh and Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau said today.
"Our beaches are internationally recognized as some of the best in the country. Making our public park beaches smoke free is about continuing to protect these natural treasures," Mackintosh said in a statement. "Smoking litter is a nuisance to park users and the environment. Like many other parents, I want to stop cigarette butts from ending up in our waterways, along our beaches and in the playgrounds where we take our kids."
Litter from tobacco products can be toxic, is slow to decompose and is costly to manage, the province said.
Manitoba will be the first province in Canada to make its public beaches and playgrounds smoke free in all of its parks.
Some U.S. states, including California and Hawaii, have had smoke-free parks and beaches for years, and some other countries have taken similar measures.
"Smoke-free areas in our parks set a good example for our children and remind us all that our parks are places where healthy living takes place through recreational activities and enjoying the great outdoors," Rondeau said.
The province says research shows that second-hand smoke, even in an outdoor setting, can lead to the same health problems as direct smoking including lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung ailments such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma.
Mackintosh said park officials will enforce the smoke-free policy with $299 fines for violators, though for the first year they will only issue warnings. Smoke-free signs and cigarette disposal receptacles will be ordered and installed in advance of 2014.