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Many New Brunswick Communities Want to Organize Smoke-Free Outdoor Events


New Brunswickers enjoy getting out in nature (photo: HEPAC in motion Parks and Trails Day 2014).

By Nathalie Landry - NBATC Communications Coordinator

For many New Brunswickers, getting out and enjoying nature does not include the idea of second-hand cigarette smoke. 

Perhaps this was no more evident than in the recent in motion Parks & Trails Day held every year in June – a province-wide event promoting healthy, active living in our communities while celebrating the many incredible outdoor spaces in our beautiful province. This past summer’s celebration saw a record number of 47 events throughout the province, 44 of which were smoke-free

This is not surprising when you consider the growing trend across the country and in our own province towards more smoke-free outdoor spaces which is thanks in large part to an increased awareness of the risks of second hand smoke, even in an outdoor setting. In fact, research shows that second-hand smoke is not only unpleasant, but that even outdoors with the wind “blowing” the smoke away, second-hand smoke can be quite hazardous. Depending on conditions such as wind speed and the number and proximity of smokers, non-smokers can be exposed to as much second-hand smoke as if they were indoors.

Many communities across New Brunswick and Canada are thus starting to enforce smoke-free outdoor community spaces and events in order to protect their citizens and reinforce healthy habits and role modeling for their children. The New Brunswick Anti-Tobacco Coalition has recently launched a new toolkit - Making My Outdoor Event Smoke-Free - that provides tips for event organizers and volunteers who want to implement a smoke-free policy during their events. But how easy is it to go the extra mile and make your event completely smoke-free?

The small rural community of Riverside-Albert provides a great example. For Cynthia Stevens, Registered Nurse at the Albert County Health & Wellness Centre, it all starts with choosing to implement such a policy and then communicating this to the community.

“Being part of the Horizon Health Network, the Albert County Health & Wellness Centre supports and enforces a strict smoke-free policy. We follow the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation, an institutional program that identifies, provides treatment, and offers follow-up to all smokers seen at our centre. Furthermore, there is no smoking allowed not only inside but also outside our building: signs indicate this very clearly and people are used to the idea. Since we held our meet-up for our in motion Parks & Trails Day outside our own building, it was easy to promote and enforce the entire day as smoke-free.”

Riverside-Albert’s in motion Parks & Trails Day included initiation to geocaching and a family-friendly scavenger hunt on the Crooked Creek Trail. Stevens says it was a pleasant day and was glad to be able to offer the activity completely free of second-hand smoke thanks to participants knowing the rules in advance and following them. She also says that promoting healthy smoke-free lifestyles is something that communities should embrace – with various key players such as schools, community facilities, and businesses all on the same page.

“There is enough research out there that clearly indicates that tobacco use is neither safe nor good for our health. As a community, the key is to keep educating the younger generation to remain tobacco-free for life and to have resources available for smokers who want to quit.”


Residents were encouraged to get in motion by enjoying the Petitcodiac Riverfront Trail in Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview (photo: HEPAC in motion parks & trails day 2014).

Joanne Lamarche, Community Development Officer for Sport, Recreation and Active Living with the City of Moncton Parks and Leisure Services helped organize the tri-municipal in motion Parks & Trails Day event for Moncton. Residents were encouraged to be active on that day, enjoying the city’s riverfront trail along the Petitcodiac River – biking, jogging or walking. The City set up a kiosk on the trail with informative pamphlets and brochures on resources available within community for health and wellbeing, including living a smoke-free lifestyle.

“In Moncton, all the city’s recreational facilities are smoke-free inside and outside the premises. All of our parks and public spaces like soccer and baseball fields are also smoke-free. Though we did not advertise our in motion Parks & Trails day event as a smoke-free event, none of the participants were smoking. I think that, fortunately, for most people nowadays, outdoor recreation and smoke-free go hand in hand.” 

Rachelle Bordeleau is a volunteer member of the Wellness Committee for the Village of Memramcook, called J’MEM. She was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of her village’s in motion Parks & Trails Day event. Residents helped clean the trails and held a BBQ in Haut-du-Ruisseau Park. “I was really glad that no one smoked in the park and throughout the entire day. Maybe it was the serene beauty of nature which made people think twice about smoking. Or it was simply that such activities tend to draw a crowd that is more active and thus health-conscious. The day definitely opened my eyes to the fact that we could easily brand future outdoor community activities as smoke-free.”


Memramcook residents celebrated in motion Parks & Trails Day by helping to clean the trails in Haut-du-Ruisseau Park (photo: Rachelle Bordeleau).

Promoting future events as smoke-free is an idea that also resonates with Michel Mallet, Assistant Director of Community Services for the Town of Shediac.  “While right now we aren’t able to enforce completely smoke-free events when they are held outdoors, I would love to be able to. The community would first need to identify this as a priority and then I’d be able to communicate the smoke-free nature of all our outdoor events ahead of time in my news release and event promotions and have appropriate signage on the premises.”

Shediac has been a great supporter of the in motion Parks & Trails Day. In 2013, citizens used the day to set up some geocaches, which are still in place to this day, thus providing an additional incentive for residents and visitors to explore the town’s outdoor spaces. In 2014, Mallet organized a community meetup at Parc Pascal Poirier. Many hikers, bikers, joggers and walkers thus had a great day out in nature during this family-friendly event. 

Mallet says the Town of Shediac is currently working on setting up a committee to identify some new initiatives that could be developed to respond to some of their most urgent needs in terms of the health and wellbeing of its citizens. “For example, if data available in our community’s profile leads our committee to choose smoke-free lifestyles as a priority, then our project could be to focus on enforcing smoke-free spaces and launching public education initiatives or programs to support healthy smoke-free habits.” He adds that although he rarely sees smokers during community events, it would be good to get the support of all residents to make outdoor events completely smoke-free, especially when there are children around. 

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