Objective: To describe how the British Columbia Capital Regional District successfully passed, implemented, and enforced a 100% smokefree bylaw in all public places, including restaurants and bars, despite an aggressive campaign by the tobacco industry (acting through the hospitality industry) to stop it.
Methods: Information was obtained from news reports, internal tobacco industry documents, reports, public documents, and interviews with key players. Tobacco industry documents were accessed between February and April 2002. This project was approved by the University of California San Francisco committee on human research.
Results: As in the USA and elsewhere in the world, the tobacco industry in British Columbia, Canada, recruited and created hospitality associations to fight against the district smokefree bylaw. They used the classic industry rhetoric of individual rights and freedoms, economic devastation, and ventilation as a solution. Public health authorities were able to counter industry strategies with a strong education campaign, well written bylaws, and persistent enforcement.
Conclusion: It is possible to overcome serious opposition orchestrated by the tobacco industry and develop and implement a 100% smokefree bylaw in Canada. Doing so requires attention to detail in drafting the bylaw, as well as a public education campaign on the health dangers of secondhand smoke and active enforcement to overcome organised resistance to the bylaw. Jurisdictions considering smokefree bylaws should anticipate this opposition when developing and implementing their bylaws.
- British Columbia
- smokefree bylaw
- tobacco industry
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