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Smoke Free Vehicles Bylaw in the Town of Wolfville

Infants and children are more severely affected by exposure to second hand smoke than adults because they are smaller, have higher respiration rates, have less mature immune systems and their respiratory tracts are still developing. Evidence implicates second hand smoke in SIDS, childhood cancers, asthma and respiratory disease in children.  While levels of second hand smoke in vehicles can be far higher than those found in smoke filled bars, children continue to be exposed to smoke in vehicles.  There is a lack of legislation protecting children from second hand smoke in private vehicles.

Smoke Free Kings (SFK’s) is a community based organization made up of volunteers and professionals committed to reducing harm related to tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke in Kings County. This group is currently working with the town of Wolfville on a bylaw banning smoking in vehicles carrying children and youth under 18 within the town limits. Similar laws have been passed in Arkansas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, California and Bangor Maine.  A number of other states are in the process of enacting this type of legislation.  Several surveys have shown strong public support for such legislation, even among adults who smoke.

In the past, municipal initiatives and successes have helped move provincial legislation forward. The Town of Wolfville has previously demonstrated strong leadership on smoking issues by becoming the first municipality to go smoke free in indoor public places in Nova Scotia.  Members of SFK’s met with Mayor Bob Stead of Wolfville and made a presentation to the Town Council in February, 2007 about the issue of childhood exposure to second hand smoke in vehicles.  Recently, on 0ctober 15th Wolfville Town Council heard first reading on the proposed bylaw.  The motion was carried and a public hearing and second reading will take place on November 5th, 2007.  If the bylaw is passed, the Town of Wolfville and SFK’s plan to proceed with a promotion/education campaign.

Smoke Free Kings has begun the evaluation piece of this initiative. A local  research group (COR&D) from Acadia University has conducted a pre survey measuring shifts in attitudes and beliefs as well as intent to change once the bylaw is in place.  A post survey will take place after the bylaw is in place.