Ontario and Quebec are blowing smoke rings around the rest of the provinces this week in terms of tobacco control legislation as the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and Bill 112, respectively, were enacted Wednesday.
The Act prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places in Ontario, including bars, restaurants, casinos, and private clubs, such as the Royal Canadian Legion. The legislation also includes greater efforts to ensure only those 19 years of age and older can buy cigarettes, as well as a phasing-out process for the promotion and display of tobacco products, which will be completed on May 31, 2008.
The basic concept of the act is to protect people from second-hand smoke, said Ministry of Health Promotion spokesperson Greg Flood.
“Banning smoking in enclosed workplaces levels the playing field across the province, instead of laws simply existing in specific municipalities,” he said.
Universities won’t be greatly affected unless they were already without a smoking policy, Flood added.
“Common areas, residences, and elevators, to name a few, all now fall under provincial legislation, and not just university policy,” he said.
Western is almost entirely smoke-free aside from a few patios, said Dave Riddell, associate Physical Plant and capital planning vice-president.
“I don’t think it will have a great impact on the campus… I don’t see any substantial changes. We don’t have any enclosed smoking areas, although we do have some patios,” he said, adding that Western also prohibits smoking within 10 metres of buildings.
There is some concern among pub, bar, and nightclub owners surrounding the legislation, however, regarding the economic impact it will have on the industry, said Randy Hughes, vice-president of the Pub and Bar Coalition of Canada, a non-profit representative group for about 3,500 of 17,000 alcohol licensees in Ontario.
“We’ve been lobbying against this [legislation] for five years. We believe in freedom of choice,” he said.
Despite the execution of the act, the organization’s work is not finished, Hughes added.
“The only way the law can be changed is if the force of the public is enough to make a difference.”
Changes will be noticeable on campus at establishments such as the Grad Club, which will need to reorganize its patio to fit the legislation, as the act prohibits smoking on all roofed patios.
“We’re contemplating taking down the entire tent because otherwise there will be no smoking at all on our patio—they’ll have to go out onto the grass. We want to keep our customers happy,” said Matt Werm, daytime bartender at the Grad Club.
In spite of the changes that will result from the act, he does not believe there will be a considerable economic impact on the establishment.
“Some of our regular customers will bitch and complain, but they’ll eventually get over it,” Werm added.