Dealing with the summer heat while waiting in line with her children for midway rides was challenging enough, Angela Wyllie says.
But the second-hand cigarette smoke she had to endure at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Bible Hill in the process was “kind of overpowering.”
“It was worse this year than usual," she said. “There was a lot of smoking going on, mostly, I would say, parents outside of the rides waiting for their kids to get on and off. I found it kind of bothersome just having to stand there all day; it’s a long day and I was also a little concerned for my kids waiting in line, you know, breathing it in.”
But it wasn’t just the other parents, Wyllie said. Midway workers were also smoking as they tended rides. Then, when she and her daughters, age four and nine, sought shade to eat under the concession tent, they encountered more second-hand smoke.
“It wasn’t everybody by any means but it just kind of stood out as an experience I haven’t had in a while.”
Wyllie’s concerns were echoed by Mel Cotterill of Salmon River who was on the midway grounds one day from about noon until 5:30 p.m.
“As it filled up, as it got busier, it got worse. And it’s the same thing every year. I’ve been taking my kids to this for years and every time I leave, I say the same thing to my friends and family.”
Like Wyllie, Cotterill said the worst annoyance was “trying to eat lunch with my kids and having people sitting under the tent smoking.
“But it would be nice to see the whole fairgrounds smoke -ree, because ... there was nowhere we could go and still be a part of the activity without breathing in somebody else’s second-hand smoke.”
After leaving the exhibition, both women wrote emails to Darrelyn Hubley, manager of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Complex (NSPEC), the minister of Health, the Village of Bible Hill and Colchester County Mayor Christine Blair.
Blair said because the NSPE grounds now are owned by the province, neither the village nor the county have jurisdiction for either setting or enforcing non-smoking regulations on provincial properties.
In a response from Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey’s office, Cotterill said the issue was referred to the Department of the Environment, which enforces the province’s Smoke Free Places Act.
In an emailed response to the Truro News from the Environment Department, spokeswoman Adèle Poirier said her office had yet to receive any direct complaints (at press time) about the issue. But she said public health officers had been onsite at the EX inspecting food concession stands.
Hubley said when she received complaints from Wyllie and Cotterill, she agreed with their concerns.
“I said, ‘you’re right.’ We immediately went out, we made up a whole bunch of extra (no smoking) signs,” Hubley said. “I get it. I don’t enjoy second-hand smoke.”
Hubley said the carnival workers are warned each year not to smoke on the midway and their manager was reminded of that after she received the complaints.
And “no-smoking, no-vaping” signs were also erected at entrances to the concession tent.
“That’s definitely not what we want to hear,” she said, of the complaints. “We jumped on it immediately. It’s important.”
Wyllie and Cotterill said they are not anti-smoking, they just feel they should not have to be subjected to second-hand smoke when they are confined in a public area, even if it is outdoors.
“I wish there could be a designated area, maybe. I’m not anti-smoking but I am anti not having a choice about being exposed to the second-hand smoke. I would definitely make an effort to keep my kids away from it if I could,” Wyllie said.