OTTAWA — The provincial government recently agreed to ban smoking on restaurant patios, beginning Jan. 1.
“If we prevent youth from taking up smoking in the first place, that will mean fewer smokers and healthier Ontarians. We need to do everything we can to protect all Ontarians from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke,” said Dipika Damerla, associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
As for the impact on the Ontario restaurant business, the ban has been getting mixed reviews from industry spokespeople. “We realized society is going this way … we’ll deal with it,” James Rilett, VP of Ontario at the Toronto-based Restaurants Canada, told The Star. Meanwhile, Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Mississauga, Ont.-based Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association, said that, until smoking is banned completely, the decision to allow smoking should be up to the restaurant. “It’s a choice the customer can make whether to go to a patio with smoking or not,” he told CP24. “Of course that impacts the decision of the business owner, and it should be his decision, based on the decisions of his customers.”
Damerla is confident the restaurant industry will cope, as it did when it outlawed smoking inside restaurants. “When we first introduced a ban on smoking inside restaurants and bars, there was a lot of concern raised that it would throw restaurants and bars out of business, but the evidence shows that did not happen,” she said. “So we are very confident that there will be no adverse affects on restaurants and bars as we ban smoking on their patios,” she told CP24.
As part of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, smoking will also be banned on playgrounds, public sports fields, and the sale of tobacco will not be allowed on university and college campuses.