Smokers may have to light up three times further from the entrance to a public building in Timmins than they do now. The Porcupine Health Unit is pushing for the bylaw to be changed, from a three metre span to nine metres. Representatives say there are high levels of exposure to smoke in the downtown core right now. They also say this increase will help to create a healthier downtown.

Councillor Noella Rinaldo, who heads up the Downtown BIA, is backing this push. She says she is tired of walking through smoke to get into public buildings, like the Mac and Archie Dillon. She says on top of that, she is tired of cigarette butts littering the streets downtown. Rinaldo also says the current bylaw of three metres is not being enforced.

However council wasn’t in complete agreement, with some saying the business owners should get a chance to weigh in on the issue. Councillor Rick Dubeau claims increasing the bylaw to nine metres is going too far, saying council has to respect the downtown business owners. Dubeau points out they pay a lot of money in taxes, and some of them do smoke. He says the change will mean some can not smoke on the street in front of their own business. Dubeau says if the city is having a problem with cigarette butts, than that comes down to an enforcement issue.

Mayor Steve Black pointed out some concerns of his own. He says it may be better to create designated smoking areas, as opposed to creating an almost 30 foot gap. Black also notes that gap may eliminate entire stretches of street from having a cigarette on them.

The health unit is now going to look into the issue further, including examining how e-cigarettes factor in, and how business owners feel about the pitch. The issue is expected to come back for a vote next month.