FREDERICTON - Smokers in New Brunswick will soon have fewer places to light-up in public if a bill introduced Wednesday becomes law.
The provincial government has introduced a bill to ban smoking in public places that are frequented by children, including restaurant patios, sports fields and beaches.
Health Minister Victor Boudreau says by restricting smoking in certain public places the government is limiting exposure to second-hand smoke.
"We're trying to do what's best to protect the population," Boudreau said outside the legislature.
Smoking will not be permitted on patios and similar outdoor facilities where food and alcohol is served, or within nine metres of doorways, windows and air intakes of indoor workplaces.
Smoking will also not be allowed on or within 20 metres of public outdoor children's equipment and sports areas and beaches.
As well, smokers will not be able to light up within nine metres of a public walking or jogging trail, or within the boundaries of provincial parks except within the boundaries of rented campsites, golf courses and designated areas within the park.
The vice-president of the New Brunswick Lung Association said the changes do more than just limit exposure to second-hand smoke.
"By implementing these measures to not smoke in public places we are denormalizing the use of tobacco and children aren't seeing as many adults smoking and modelling the behaviour," Arthur Thomson said.
"If you don't smoke by the time you're 19 you are probably not going to smoke in your adult life."
The proposed amendments will also ban the use of e-cigarettes and water pipes anywhere that traditional smoking is not allowed.
Thomson said he'd like to see the province also put limits on the sale of flavoured tobacco and e-cigarettes, and make sure they can only be purchased where regular tobacco is now sold.
Boudreau said those changes would require amendments to other pieces of legislation, but they are being looked at.
Progressive Conservative Leader Bruce Fitch said the government also needs to consider spending more money on smoking cessation programs.
If passed, the amendments to the Smoke-Free Places Act would take effect July 1.