Toronto mulls expanding smoking ban to public spaces

Matt Coutts
Daily Brew

Toronto the Good is already a bad place to be a smoker, and a proposal to further limit acceptable smoking areas could soon make it even worse.

The city's board of health announced on Monday that it will consider a proposal to further expand its smoking ban next year.

The Canadian Press reports that the proposal would prohibit smoking on uncovered restaurant patios, public sports fields, and areas near hospitals, bus stops, public squares and doorways.

These, combined with current off-limit areas, would leave Toronto smokers huddled near underpasses, in provincially-registered smoking areas and, perhaps, bobbing along the Don River in kayaks.

Toronto already has a bylaw prohibiting smoke from playground areas, wading pools and splash pads, but the meat of the city's smoking limitations come from province.

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The Smoke-free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in or near private schools, common areas in condo and apartment buildings, nurseries and day cares, sports arenas and any other enclosed public space or workplace.

The Act was updated in 2010 to include partially- and fully-covered restaurant and bar patios, the thinking at the time being, "Let the smokers sit in the open air where they won't bother anyone."

According to CTV News, Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's chief medical officer, said extending the ban to more public spaces would limit smoking's negative effect on society.

"Smoking in public places does two things: it exposes non-smokers to second-hand smoke which we know has a negative impact on health," McKeowan said. "Secondly it normalizes smoking. When young people see a crowd of people enjoying themselves it reinforces the notion that smoking is OK."

Indoor public smoking has been banned in various forms across the country, and bans on smoking outdoors are not uncommon.

Ottawa made patios and outdoor restaurants smoke-free earlier this year, and the Province of Nova Scotia also requires restaurant patios to be free of cigarettes.

Winnipeg did not ban smoking on open patios, but did introduce new smoking laws last year that prohibited cigarettes from all fields, playgrounds and health care facilities.

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According to Health Canada, Newfoundland and New Brunswick also banned smoking in all indoor and outdoor areas of restaurants and bars.

British Columbia has banned smoking in public places, restaurants and bars, while Vancouver also banned smoking in all city parks, beaches and the public transit system through the parkland.

New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan have banned smoking in virtually all public spaces and workplaces.

And Alberta allows smoking in bars and restaurants, but several municipalities including Calgary and Edmonton have enacted their own smoke-free bylaws in public places.