Concern about both the effects of second-hand smoke and the exposure of children to a smoking lifestyle, has led one Sorrento parent to advocate for a no-smoking buffer zone near Sorrento Elementary and the Sorrento Preschool.
Tobias Godson has children who attend Sorrento Elementary and said he became disturbed on seeing parents standing on the sidewalk smoking near the bus and car drop-off zones.
Godson says requests for the smokers to refrain didn’t work, so he has approached Interior Health about expanding the no-smoking area.
“I feel really strongly about this. When I see kids imitating the smokers like it’s cool, I find that really disturbing. That’s not the message I think kids need to see when they get dropped off at school.”
Smoking is already not permitted on school property, however, the school district has no jurisdiction over public sidewalks.
Godson says he has been pleased with the response of the various government agencies.
“I’m very happy to see there seems to be a lot of support for this,” adds Godson.
He is now working with Interior Health’s tobacco reduction coordinators to wards the creation of an enlarged no-smoking area.
“We are planning to engage with the CSRD and School District #83 to help them look at ways we could promote a healthy environment… As we know smoking is the single leading preventable cause of disease and death, so it is a significant public health issue,” says Jeff Conners, a tobacco reductio co-ordinator with Interior Health.
“We are willing to work with any area that is looking to create smoke-free areas. One of our goals is for Interior Health to advance smoking ban bylaws.”
Conners says non-smoking buffer areas which are larger than the legally required minimums have been created in places like Thompson Rivers University. He also points to Sicamous as a leader in the area, as they have created smoking ban bylaws for all playgrounds, sports fields, beaches and trails.
Principal Ian Landy says the School District would be supportive of additional non-smoking areas near the school.
“Any time we can bring the discussion of healthy choices up with the kids, that is a good thing and we certainly would always take the position against smoking,” said Landy, who points out the idea of a no-smoking buffer zone was not initiated by the school itself.
“I support parents who have taken this on as a passion project and contacted Interior Health.”
It is not known when the issue will come before the CSRD board of directors for consideration.