Though smoking rates are in decline and all Canadian jurisdictions have legislation making workplaces and public places smoke-free, many Canadians, especially children living with smokers, are frequently exposed to SHS while at home and in cars.
Independent studies and reports over the past 30 years have confirmed health concerns and the burden of morbidity/mortality caused by exposure to SHS. The message from all of these reports is clear and consistent: all exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful. Therefore, involuntary exposure should be eliminated — whether exposure happens to occur in a public place or a private home or car.
In November 2007 the Town of Wolfville in Nova Scotia set a Canadian precedent by becoming the first jurisdiction in the country to prohibit smoking in private vehicles with children present. Bylaw No. 89, the Smoke Free Vehicles Bylaw, protects children under the age of 18 and came into effect on June 1st, 2008. This bylaw also contains a broad definition of smoking that is not exclusive to tobacco. Shortly after Wolfville’s bylaw was passed, the government of Nova Scotia quickly followed suit and passed Bill No. 6, An Act to Amend Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2002, the Smoke-free Places Act. This amendment, which came into force April 1, 2008, prohibits smoking in private vehicles with children under the age of 19 present.
Since the municipality of Wolfville, NS and the Province of Nova Scotia took those bold steps to protect children from SHS in cars, many other provinces and territories have followed suit. There are now 10 Canadian provinces and territories with smoke-free private vehicle legislation:
Nova Scotia (2007)
Yukon Territory (2008)
British Columbia (2008)
New Brunswick (2009)
Prince Edward Island (2009)
Newfoundland and Labrador (2011)
To read more about smoke-free vehicles, check out the NSRA’s position statement on smoke-free private vehicles.