Manitoba may face court challenge in attempt to stamp out smoking on First Nations

The Manitoba government is planning to extend its ban on smoking in indoor public places to First Nations communities.

A bill before the legislature proposes to remove an exemption for reserves and other areas of federal jurisdiction, including military bases, from the provincial smoking ban.

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Ceremonial tobacco use would still be allowed.

Audrey Gordon, minister for mental health, wellness and recovery, says the aim is to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

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She says band councils will be consulted.

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The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says the province does not have the right to enforce its smoking ban unilaterally.

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Grand Chief Arlen Dumas says all options are on the table to fight the government’s move, including a possible court challenge.

In a media release, the government said a 2015 study commissioned by Manitoba Health and Seniors Care found direct smoking-related illnesses cost the province $244 million annually.

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