Comment magazine publisher Michael Chesney was told Monday to remove the tobacco plants from his Victoria Street storefront or face a fine under the Tobacco Control Act.
Since 2008, the province has prohibited the display and promotion of tobacco products anywhere that could be seen by minors. Similar regulations exist all across Canada with the aim of deterring younger people from taking up smoking.
Chesney was growing a crop of about 50 tobacco plants at his magazine office that he formerly ran as the Kootenay Time cafe. He said the plants were grown from seed and were being used to provide shade and privacy for people working inside.
“I’m not selling tobacco here; I don’t even smoke myself,” Chesney said. “I think its a little extreme that I’m being told what type of plant I can grow in my window.”
The notice came from an Interior Health enforcement officer, who advised Chesney that he was welcome to grow the tobacco plants in his home garden or under grow lights in a back room, as long as they’re out of sight of passersby.
He was given two days to either remove them or face a fine of $575 each day they remained on display.
Chesney said Monday he planned to relocate the plants, which had been in his office window for about five weeks and were just starting to bloom.
“Maybe I’ll trade them out for some tomato plants in the window or maybe something else,” he said, clearly plotting something. “I’ve been known to pull great practical jokes.”