Contributors: Jake English, Brad MacDonald, Angelica Sydney
Restaurant owners are wary of a potential ban on smoking in Toronto. As Toronto’s chief medical officer David McKeown is trying to enact a new smoking ban proposal.
Public parks, beaches, restaurant patios, sports fields, and building entrances are all among McKeown’s targets. The proposal, if approved by the Board of Health, will add onto the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA) introduced in 2006. The SFOA put a ban on smoking inside of all public buildings, enclosed patios, and around children in cars.
“The history of smoking restrictions in Toronto and most other places is a history of incremental change,” McKeown told Metro Morning news. “I think this is the next logical step to protect people against smoking.”
Toronto is well known for a having a plethora of outdoor patios on top of buildings and (along busy) streets. Torontonians are currently allowed to smoke on patios as long, there is no full or partial roof over top. Businesses may be affected if this ban is enforced.
Hemingway’s, a popular Yorkville restaurant and bar, has a designated area for smoking on two of their three patios.
Gary Tanguay, a manager at Hemingway’s, has concerns about regulations that will have to be put in place if this proposal gets approved. He is also, concerned of potential dine and dashing.
“If they ban smoking on patios people would go outside the franchise to smoke,” said Tanguay. “I imagine people would have to pay for food and drinks before they leave. They may have to leave their purse and wallets with the staff.”
Itiana Giulianai, a bartender from the Blue Lagoon, a local pub on Lakeshore Blvd W says, “this may help people stop smoking. I don’t personally smoke myself but, when people drink they smoke at the same time.”
The new restrictions aim to “improve protection from second-hand smoke in Toronto and promote a tobacco-free lifestyle to children and youth,” according to the report released to city officials.
“I think smoking can influence children. So, if there is a ban on smoking in public places then children may not be so much influenced,” said Giulianai.
Certain malls in the Greater Toronto Area have already banned smoking on their property. Sherway Gardens, one of Canada’s ritzy malls banned smoking on their property in 2007. Also, hospitals across the GTA have followed through with banning smoking on their property. Trillium Health Care hospital, located across the street from Sherway Gardens have eliminated smoke free designated areas.
McKeown is basing this proposal on the concerns of the population.
“We are experiencing a long term trend where people expect not to be exposed to toxic substances and second-hand smoke wherever they go in their daily lives”, said McKeown, “and these measures are just the next step in that process.”
According to the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) Twitter page, the public health board will be coming to a discussion on the public ban of smoking on patios and public places.
On September 30,the Board of Health will consider banning smoking at building entrances and future smoking restrictions in outdoor places.
— ORHMA (@ORHMA) September 24, 2013
Despite the wide range of banned smoking locations, municipal and provincial authorities have strategies in place to enforce current smoking laws.
Employers and administrators for work places and schools are mainly responsible for enforcing smoking laws. They must inform guests of the rules, and deal with those that don’t comply.
Public health officials will also carry out investigations and responses to complaints in schools as needed.
Maximum fines do not exist to punish corporations breaking rules, but individuals can face up to $5000 for infractions.
Police officers and municipal bylaw officers also enforce the laws and can intervene when necessary.
“Toronto Police Department always enforces laws stipulated by the City of Toronto,” said police sergeant Mike Facoetti, “but also bylaw officers do the work. Either or will respond.”