The Regional Municipality of Durham

News Release

Health Department focuses on smoke-free beaches and parks this World No Tobacco Day, May 31

WHITBY, ON May 22, 2014 - Durham Region Health Department will mark World No Tobacco Day, May 31, by focusing on the theme of smoke-free beaches and parks. Local by-laws, followed by the Smoke-Free Ontario Act in 2006, have removed smoking and the dangers of second-hand smoke in restaurants, workplaces, workplace vehicles, bars and on school properties.

“Many outdoor public places are now more commonly becoming smoke-free, including two Durham municipalities, Whitby and Scugog, which have recently adopted smoke-free outdoor spaces policies,” said Shelley Simic, a public health nurse with the Health Department. “Beaches and parks offer residents the opportunity for recreation and relaxation. For many, smoke-free beaches and parks may only help to enhance this experience.”

In a recent Health Department survey, 79 per cent of area residents support smoke-free beaches and 89 per cent are in favour of smoke-free public playgrounds. “Smoke-free beaches and parks assist in protecting adults and children from the dangers of second-hand smoke, as well as our environment from the pollution of discarded cigarette butts,” said Ms. Simic.

Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter in the world, with an estimated four and a half trillion butts discarded each year worldwide. The filters of cigarettes are made of a form of plastic which is not biodegradable; they are toxic and can pose dangerous health effects if ingested by marine wildlife, small children and pets.

“Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death and disease in Canada,” said Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health. “Strategies to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products are a priority.  Smoke-free beaches and parks encourage a healthy, smoke-free and active lifestyle, provide positive role models for youth and protect our environment. The benefits of smoke-free beaches and parks may also assist in socially de-normalizing tobacco use and thus, preventing youth from starting to use tobacco products.”

To celebrate World No Tobacco Day, the Health Department will host information displays across Durham Region, May 26 to May 31. For more information on smoke-free beaches and parks, quitting smoking, tobacco use prevention and protecting people from exposure to second-hand smoke, call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.


Media inquiries:
Glendene Collins - Health Department 905-668-7711, ext. 2999