Surrey drops hammer on hospital smokers

  - Leader file photo
— image credit: Leader file photo

The clouds of smoke outside Surrey's hospitals are soon coming to an end, as the city passed a bylaw Monday prohibiting puffing on the property of such facilities.

Smoking outside the city's health care facilities has been a growing and controversial problem. Under the rules of the Fraser Health Authority, smoking is not allowed anywhere on hospital property.

Fraser Health has said security was able to move the smokers along, but found it impossible to keep them away with no bylaw in place.

Now, Surrey Memorial Hospital security can call city bylaw officers, who are able to issue tickets of no less than $100 and up to $2,000.

South Surrey's David Thiele raised the alarm in October that smoking at the B.C. Cancer Agency's Fraser Valley Centre in North Surrey was turning the entranceway into a smoke pit.

Several people at the time, including hospital staff, were smoking outside the building, which is part of Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) property.

If security is unsuccessful in getting the smokers to butt out, they – or the public – can now call city bylaw department and bylaw officers will come and issue tickets.

However, Surrey's 17 bylaw officers are also stretched thin.

In the first quarter of last year, Surrey bylaw officers had five smoking complaints, which was less than 0.1 per cent of all 5,545 bylaw enforcement actions during that time.

Coun. Mary Martin, the chair of the Mayor's Task Force on Health, said she's pleased to see the bylaw pass, and expects the area to be smoke-free shortly.

"We will place fines on you if you do not comply," Martin said.




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