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The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit works with municipalities to assist with policy and by-law development on public health realted topics. 

 2019 Alchohol Regulations 
The recently announced changes to alcohol regulations by the provincial government will lead to increased availability of alcohol within our communities. The purpose of this document is to highlight the changes to alcohol regulations, and explore opportunities for municipalities to address alcohol consumption and its associated harms at the local level.

1. Retail Expansion of Alcohol Sales

The government is planning to expand the retail availability of alcohol, specifically with sales in convenience and big box stores. 

Why Does This Matter?

Extensive research reveals that expansion in the availability of alcohol increases alcohol use and its related harms such as public disturbances, alcohol-related crashes, violence and injuries, alcohol abuse and chronic diseases. 

What Can Municipalities Do?

It is important to regulate the availability of alcohol through density and location restrictions. This can be achieved by:

  • Introducing site-specific zoning to control locations of liquor sales licensed establishments. This can include minimum distance requirements between establishments and other locations of concern (e.g. schools, community centers).
  • Creating policy restrictions that establish limits for the number of liquor sales licensed establishments by neighbourhood.

It is also important to control access to alcohol through licensing and enforcement of private businesses. This can be achieved by:

  • Working with enforcement authorities during a liquor license application process. Ensure a formal review process has been undertaken on the basis of protecting public interests and minimizing nuisances.
  • Requiring a fee for liquor license applications and implementing mandatory training for liquor sales licensed establishments.
  • Investigating public concerns, such as nuisances and property standard violations, in areas with a high number of liquor sales licensed establishments.

2. Designated Public Spaces for Alcohol Consumption

With the recent changes to regulations, municipalities are allowed to create or amend by-laws to designate public areas for the consumption of alcohol.

Why Does This Matter?

Permitting alcohol consumption in public areas will further normalize alcohol use among children and youth and may hinder the public’s enjoyment of these areas. It can also significantly increase the risk of serious injury and death, particularly at beaches, waterways or remote / inaccessible trails.

What Can Municipalities Do?

If a municipality decides to designate a public space for alcohol consumption, controlling access to alcohol is an important tool to protect the health and safety of patrons and the public, and to manage risk and liability to the municipality. This can be achieved by:

  • Fencing off the alcohol consumption area to control patron access.
  • Requiring sales by SmartServe trained personnel, if applicable.
  • Not designating beaches, waterways (e.g. lakes, rivers) or remote / inaccessible trails as the consumption area.

It is also important to control access to alcohol through the enforcement of designated alcohol consumption areas. This can be achieved by:

  • Investigating public concerns, such as nuisances and property standard violations, in designated alcohol consumption areas.

 3. Tailgate Event Permit Application

A tailgating permit has been created for sporting events, including professional, semi-professional and postsecondary sporting events. The Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario’s new guidelines for tailgate events allow patrons to bring and consume their own alcohol to the event.

Why Does This Matter?

A tailgating event, with its open and free-roaming environment, has the strong potential to normalize harmful alcohol use behaviour, especially amongst postsecondary students.

What Can Municipalities Do?

It is important to establish requirements for the Tailgate Event Permit with the purpose of protecting the health and safety of patrons and the public. This can be achieved by:

  • Fencing off the alcohol consumption area to control patron access.
  • Requiring sales by SmartServe trained personnel, if applicable.

It is also important to control access to alcohol through enforcement. This can be achieved by:

  • Working with enforcement authorities during a Tailgate Event Permit application process. Ensure a formal review process has been undertaken on the basis of protecting public interests and minimizing nuisances.
  • Investigating public concerns, such as nuisances and property standard violations, in common tailgating areas.

How Can the Health Unit Support You? 

The Health Unit can help your municipality to develop, update or review new or existing alcohol policies or by-laws. The Health Unit can also provide your municipality with resources to support the implementation of alcohol policies or by-laws, including signage, public education and evaluation support. 

 Facts about Alcohol Harms in Nipissing and Parry Sound Districts

Alcohol is no ordinary commodity. It has substantial health and social costs within our communities, and its consumption is associated with public disturbances and social disruption, violence and injuries, chronic disease, addiction and poor mental health. The recently-announced changes to alcohol regulations by the provincial government will lead to increased availability of alcohol within our communities. These changes include, but are not limited to, expanding alcohol sales to convenience stores, designating public spaces for alcohol consumption, and permitting tailgating at sporting events. The purpose of this report is to highlight the health and social costs of alcohol in Nipissing and Parry Sound District, and explore how the changes in legislation may further impact alcohol-related harms in our communities.

Fact #1:

Between 2011 and 2015, 89 deaths were attributable to alcohol locally.

Why does this matter?

The designation of public areas for the consumption of alcohol will significantly increase the risk of serious injury and death, particularly at beaches or waterways (e.g., lakes, rivers) or remote or inaccessible trails.1 This would consequently increase liability for municipalities.

Fact #2:

Since 1997, the number of impaired driving incidents investigated by local police have decreased. Last year there were 187 investigations. 

Why does this matter?

Liberalization of alcohol controls has been shown to increase alcohol-related traffic accidents.2 Additionally, public safety concerns and law enforcement costs may result from the Ontario Government’s proposed tailgating permit. Tailgating events and the designation of public areas for alcohol consumption can increase the use of municipal resources such as police and paramedic services.3

Fact #3:

Since 2002, the number of Emergency Department (ED) visits attributed to alcohol has doubled locally. In 2017, nearly 1,000 ED visits were attributed to alcohol.

Fact #4:

Between 2013 and 2017, 1,522 hospitalizations were attributable to alcohol. Those hospitalizations are classified by most responsible cause below.

Why does this matter?

Alcohol consumption results in an estimated $1.7 billion dollars in direct health care costs and $3.6 billion in indirect costs annually in Ontario.4 An increase in either hours of sale or number of alcohol outlets has resulted in an increase in alcohol related disease and injuries, ED visits, and hospitalizations.5

Fact #5:

High risk alcohol use can be found across many age groups locally

  • Nearly one in three local high school students have a potential alcohol use problem6
  • Half of all people aged 19 to 24 report binge drinking7 at least once per month in the last year
  • One in four people aged 45 to 64 years old report binge drinking7 at least once per month in the last year

Why does this matter?

The Ontario government is proposing to allow municipalities to designate public areas for the consumption of alcohol. Permitting alcohol consumption in public areas will further normalize alcohol use among children and youth and may hinder the public’s enjoyment of these areas.8 The Ontario government is also proposing to expand the retail availability of alcohol to convenience and big box stores. Expansion in the availability of alcohol increases alcohol use and related harms such as alcohol abuse, liver cirrhosis, violence and injuries, alcohol-related crashes, cancers, suicides, and public disturbances.5,9,10,11 This trend was found in both Alberta and British Columbia following liquor sale expansion.

References

1. Driscoll, T.R., Harrison, J.A., & Steenkamp, M. (2004). Review of the role of alcohol in drowning associated with recreational aquatic activity. Injury Prevention, 10, 107-113.

2. Popova, S., Giesbrecht, N., Bekmuradov, D., & Patra, J. (2009). Hours and days of sale and density of alcohol outlets: Impacts on alcohol consumption and damage: A systematic review. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 44(5), 500-516.

3. Erickson, P. (2010). The dangers of alcohol deregulation: The United Kingdom experience. Public Action Management: Centre for Alcohol Policy.

4. Rehm, J., Patra, J., Gnam, W. H., Sarnocinska-Hart, A., & Popova, S. (2011). Avoidable cost of alcohol abuse in Canada. European Addiction Research, 17(2), 72–9.

5. Myran, D. T., Chen, J. T., Giesbrecht, N., & Rees, V.W. (2019). The association between alcohol access and alcohol‐attributable emergency department visits in Ontario, Canada. Addiction. doi: 10.1111/add.14597.

6. Alcohol use problems are defined using the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test.

7. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion.

8. Xuan et al. (2015). Youth drinking in the United States: Relationships with alcohol policies and adult drinking. Pediatrics, 136(1), 18-27.

9. Zalcman, R.F., & Mann, R.E. (2007). The Effects of Privatization of Alcohol Sales in Alberta on Suicide Mortality Rates. Contemporary Drug Problems, 34(3), 589-609

10. Stockwell, T., Zhao, J., Macdonald, S., Vallance, K., Gruenewald, P., Ponicki, W., Holder, H., & Treno, A. (2011). Impact on alcohol-related mortality of a rapid rise in the density of private liquor outlets in British Columbia: a local area multi-level analysis. Addiction, 106(4), 768-76

11. Wilkinson, C. & Livingston, M. (2012). Distances to on- and off-premise alcohol outlets and experiences of alcohol-related amenity problems. Drug and Alcohol Review, 31(4), 394-401.

 Municipal Social Media Posts 

As a municipality please feel free to save these images to be used for social media posts to inform the public about alcohol by-laws in your community. If you wish to reproduce with your community's logo please email communications@healthunit.ca.

Learn about retail expansion of alcohol sales in your area. 

Not all communities have a designated public space for alcohol consumption.

Not every event is a tailgate sanctioned event.  

 

Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 - Ontario's Tobacco Control Area Networks
The primary goal of the SFOA 2017 is to protect Ontarians from physical and social exposure to secondhand smoke and vapour. It bans smoking and vaping indoors and in many outdoor public spaces such as sporting areas, children’s playgrounds, school property and restaurant and bar patios. A number of outdoor settings are not currently covered by provincial regulation such as:
  • Beaches
  • Walking Trails
  • Outdoor Festivals
  • Municipal Property

The legalization and subsequent inclusion of cannabis and e-cigarettes/vaping under the SFOA 2017 presents an opportunity for municipalities to open and expand your No Smoking bylaws to also include cannabis and vaping.  It is also an ideal time to include more of the outdoor spaces where your residents and visitors gather, play and work under the bylaw.

Commercial and Sacred Tobacco: What is the difference? 

Commercial tobacco refers to tobacco that is commercially produced for use in cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars, hookah, and other products.1 Commercial tobacco is different from traditional/sacred tobacco that is used and kept sacred by indigenous communities.1 For the purpose of this resource, all references to tobacco, apply to commercial tobacco only, as traditional or sacred tobacco is typically exempted from smoke/tobacco-free policies.

Why Implement Enhanced Smoke and Vapour Legislation?

Municipalities can positively impact the health of your communities by adopting or expanding a smoke and vapour-free bylaw. Reasons to do so include the following:

Role Modeling:

When people are exposed to others using tobacco or vape products, it creates the impression that the use of these products is common and socially acceptable.2 Evidence shows that enhanced smoke and vapour-free policies:

  • Support quit attempts by reducing visual cues for smoking and vaping;
  • Change perceived norms on smoking and vaping behaviour;
  • Reduce demand for smoke and vape products; 2 and
  • Decrease youth and young adult initiation.

Environmental Threats

Smoking in outdoor areas can contribute to increased litter, pollution, and risk of fire caused by improperly discarded or extinguished cigarette butts, especially in parks and beaches.  Cigarette butts are the most littered item and are not biodegradable.3 They remain an ongoing threat to children, wildlife and the environment. Prohibiting smoking and vaping in more outdoor locations will reduce litter; reduce municipal cleanup costs; and free-up taxpayers’ money for more worthwhile initiatives. 4

Health Impacts

Smoke and vapour-free outdoor spaces legislation decreases exposure to secondhand smoke. Despite common perceptions that tobacco smoke dissipates outdoors, research has demonstrated that levels of secondhand smoke in outdoor settings can be comparable to indoor levels .5 Evidence concludes that even brief exposure to tobacco smoke may cause significant adverse health effects to non-smokers. 5

Evidence shows that enhanced smoke and vapour-free legislation:

  • Directly contributes to creating a smoke /vapour-free culture
  • Reduces the initiation of smoking and vaping among youth
  • Reduces the prevalence of tobacco use
  • Protects the environment
  • Protects against exposure to secondhand smoke and vapour
  • Increases the number of people who quit smoking
  • Reduces tobacco related morbidity and mortality

Ontario’s Tobacco, Vaping and Cannabis Landscape

Commercial Tabacco

The government of Ontario is committed to ensuring that Ontario has the lowest smoking rate in Canada. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, between 2005 and 2014, there was a significant decrease in smoking prevalence among Ontarians aged 12 years and older, from 19.6% to 16.1%.Even with this progress, tobacco use continues to be a notable cause of preventable disease and death, and is responsible for an estimated 13,000 deaths in Ontario per year. It kills more Ontarians than alcohol, illicit substances, accidents, suicide and homicides combined. 

E-Cigarettes/Vaping

An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a battery powered device that heats a liquid chemical (e-juice) into a vapour that can be inhaled.  This is commonly called vaping. E-juice does not contain tobacco, however most of these products contain nicotine which is the addictive substance found in cigarettes.  More research is needed to determine both the short and long-term health risks of vaping. Although e-cigarettes may have fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes, vaping is not harmless.

According to the 2017 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, vaping among students is outpacing cigarette smoking. Past year e-cigarette use among Ontario’s Grade 7-12 students was 10.7% compared to 7% who smoked cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes increases by grade, with 9.2% of Grade 9 students and 18.9% of Grade 12 students reporting having used e-cigarettes in the past year.

Vaping is not harmless

  • Most e-juices contain nicotine which can be highly addictive
  • Nicotine can alter brain development and affect memory and concentration
  • Chemicals such as formaldehyde, acrolein, propylene glycol and artificial flavourings are present
  • It is unknown what health risks can come from secondhand vapour
  • There is growing evidence that youth who vape go on to smoke cigarettes 6

Cannabis

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 passed in the legislature prohibits smoking or vaping cannabis wherever it is illegal to smoke tobacco products. In addition, cannabis cannot be smoked, vaped or eaten in a vehicle or boat that is being driven or is at risk of being put into motion. 

Locations you cannot smoke or vape

You cannot smoke or vape tobacco or cannabis in the following Outdoor Areas under SFOA, 2017:

        on restaurant or bar patios and public areas within 9m of a patio

        on outdoor grounds of specified Ontario government office buildings

        in reserved seating areas at outdoor sports and entertainment locations

        on grounds of community recreational facilities, and public areas within 20m of those grounds

        in sheltered outdoor areas with a roof and more than two walls for use by the public or employees (e.g. a bus shelter)

        on school grounds and all public areas within 20m of these grounds

        on children’s playgrounds and public areas within 20m of playgrounds

Municipal Cost & Enforcement 

Implementing and enforcing smoke-free outdoor space bylaws has not been shown to require additional financial and human resources.7  In a survey of 37 Ontario municipalities that had smoke-free outdoor space bylaws in place for at least two years (enacted no later than June 1, 2010), the enforcement work activities were addressed within current budgets and workforce. 7

Activities undertaken to increase community awareness of the bylaws included: hanging signage; delivering community presentations; and circulating promotional materials (e.g., posters, information in recreation/tourism brochures and on social media etc.).7

Enforcement activities were also undertaken by current municipal staff (most often by municipal bylaw officers), and generally included responding to complaints and routine inspections, often in the course of officers’ daily travels.7 The majority of surveyed municipalities had issued warnings as a result of noncompliance; however, only six had issued ticket(s).

Similar results were found in a review of the Town of Collingwood Playground bylaw enacted in July 2000 and expanded to include public playing fields by 2005. A review of the public’s response to the bylaw found between 2000-2007 there were no complaints, no tickets issued and minimal damage to signage.8

To help build voluntary compliance and support for a bylaw community education is important. While voluntary compliance is cost-effective, it is still important for local governments to take enforcement action when necessary. 9 Making information available and accessible to the public helps to proactively manage public expectations about enforcement.9

Next Steps

By making the effort to enact these protections, each municipality will have more control and ability to influence the societal impacts of smoking, vaping and cannabis. Check out the following resources to get started:

  1. Review your municipality’s current No Smoking bylaw to determine how it can be enhanced to give greater protection from secondhand smoke and vapour.
  2. Consult Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017 for further support in guiding bylaw enhancement: http://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org/Topics/Tobacco/Protect-Yourself-From-Secondhand-Smoke/Smoke-Free-Ontario-Act
  3. Review a draft model of a Smoke and Vapour-Free Bylaw: http://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org/docs/default-source/jfy-communities/Public-Health-Guidance-for-Municipalities_Cannabis.pdf?sfvrsn=12
  4. Determine your Bylaw Education, Communication and Enforcement Plans. The following links provides information for health care practitioners supporting municipal bylaw development.  https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Bylaw_Primer_2014.pdf
  5. Connect with your Public Health Unit for consultation and support 

References

1Keep It Sacred National Native Network. (2015). Commercial Tobacco. Retrieved online from                             https://keepitsacred.itcmi.org/tobacco-and-tradition/commercial-tobacco/.

2Government of Ontario. (2018, May). Smoke-Free Ontario - The Next Chapter. Retrieved online from    http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/ministry/publications/reports/SmokeFreeOntario/default.aspxF

3Non-Smokers’ Rights Association & the Smoking and Health Action Foundation (2011). Tobacco-free campus guide. Retrieved online from https://leavethepackbehind.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/08/Tobacco_Free_Campus_Guide_web_final.pdf

4Forsythe, J. Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. (2010, September). Smoke-Free Outdoor Public Spaces:    A Community Advocacy Toolkit. Retrieved online from http://www.smoke-free.ca/pdf_1/Smoke-free%20outdoor%20spaces%20advocacy%20-sept2010.pdf

5Cameron M et al. Secondhand smoke exposure (PM2.5) in outdoor areas and its correlates. Tobacco Control 2010; 10 (1): 19-23.

6Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved online from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html#one

7Kennedy et al: Reported municipal costs from smoke-free by-laws-experience from Ontario, Canada. Tobacco Induced Diseases 2014 12:4

8Ontario Tobacco Research Unit L.E.A.R.N Project. Retrieved at https://www.ptcc-cfc.on.ca/common/pages/UserFile.aspx?fileId=104068

9The office of the Ombudsperson (2016) Bylaw enforcement: best practices guide for local governments (Special Report No. 36). Retrieved from https://www.bcombudsperson.ca/sites/default/files/Special%20Report%20No%20-%2036%20Bylaw%20Enforcement%20-%20Best%20Practices%20Guide%20for%20Local%20Governments.pdf

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