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Coalition to deliver anti-smoking postcards to council

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On the heels of the Northwestern Health Unit’s campaign to gauge public support for an anti-smoking bylaw in regional municipalities, the Fort Frances Heart Health Coalition will deliver the local share of mail-in responses to town council at its regular meeting Monday night.

“We’re going to give them what’s rightfully theirs. The postcards belong to them, and now they’ll see what the community thinks about the bylaw,” said health promoter Jennifer McKibbon, who will attend the meeting alongside local coalition members.

“We’re also going to make a request for council to reconsider a bylaw,” she added. “We want to prove it’s a concern of the public.”

Council had agreed in early January that it was not prepared to consider a smoke-free bylaw for all workplaces in town limits at that time, adding the matter should be under provincial jurisdiction.

McKibbon and other health unit workers have been delivering the postcards to municipalities in the Kenora and Rainy River districts over the past couple of weeks.

“We’ve been politely received. They at least seem considerate of the information we’ve given them,” she noted.

“They don’t tell us if we’ve changed they’re minds but we like to think it’s making a difference,” added McKibbon, citing a presentation in Sioux Lookout last week, where council there “left [the presenters] with a feeling they’ll at least consider the issue.”

McKibbon said she’s continuing to press the point that municipalities should have no excuses not to implement an anti-smoking bylaw.

“Some councils, like Fort Frances, have insisted they won’t act unless the province steps in—that’s a stumbling block,” she admitted.

“Being a politician in Northwestern Ontario, I know council members have been to Toronto and they’ve always stood by the philosophy, ‘Don’t make Toronto solutions. We need solutions that are made locally, and suited for Northwestern Ontario.’

“To me, saying the province has to step in and do something here weakens our position,” McKibbon argued.

In related news, Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, will be speaking at a breakfast Tuesday from 7:30-8:30 a.m. downstairs at the Civic Centre.

The purpose of the session, said McKibbon, is to get the community, particularly business owners, to learn more about anti-smoking bylaws for enclosed public places and the economic effect of such policies.

“I’ll be inviting the councillors to come out [for the breakfast] at tonight’s meeting. It’s an opportunity to get a point of view they might not have seen yet,” she noted.

About 10 people have signed up to attend.

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