Earlier this week, local citizen Carl White expressed his concerns about the amount of cigarette butts on the Sault Area Hospital’s section of the Hub Trail in a letter to the editor of the Sault Star.
SaultOnline reached out to him to discuss his concerns.
“Well a few years ago the minister of health banned smoking on hospital property and really provided nowhere for smokers to go. They’ve all moved to the Hub Trail, so the Hub Trail has become the defacto smoking section. And the Hub Trail is a recreational trail – I don’t think there should be smoking there,” White explained. “It’s a recreational trail. People are using it for walking, cycling, kids are on it. I mean it’s accepted that second-hand smoke is not good for people. In fact, some studies say it’s worse than first-hand smoke. So I don’t think that people using the Hub Trail – which is a major recreational facility – should be exposed to second-hand smoke, and the mess. There’s coffee cups and cigarette butts and all kinds of garbage all over.”
The Sault Area Hospital released a statement in response to White’s concerns, explaining that, since opening in 2011, the hospital decided to work collaboratively with the City and Algoma Public Health to maintain a non-smoking campus, “with our smoke-free property policy becoming part of the municipal smoking bylaw.
Consistent with many hospital campuses across the province, we recognized early on the need to address smoking on our campus, the role we play in reducing the risks associated with smoking and the importance of promoting a healthy environment. Ten years later, we see alignment with government legislation that went into effect January 1, 2018, that prohibits the installation of a smoking area on our property and mandating that hospitals across the provinces are smoke-free properties.”
Currently, smoking is not permitted in or on all SAH facilities and grounds, including inside a vehicle parked on hospital property, as per the City’s smoking bylaw. Our patients, the public, hospital staff, physicians, and volunteers are reminded to refrain from smoking on the hospital’s property and to respect our neighbouring properties. Ongoing efforts are made by our security team to enforce our smoke-free property policy; however, the property to the east of the hub trail (bush area off the hub trail) is not hospital property, and therefore we are faced with ongoing challenges in policing and keeping that area clean.
White said he’d like those involved – such as Algoma Public Health and the Minister of Health – in setting up a space for hospital staff and patients to smoke.
“I’d like to see the people involved to just sit down and look at a solution for this,” he explained. “And really somebody’s got to explain to the Minister of Health that her mandate or direction not to have smoking on hospital property has had some dire consequences for the rest of the community.”