Confusion on provincewide smoking ban
The Review (Niagara Falls)
Sat 12 Apr 2003
Confusion seems to reign in the provincial government concerning a possible provincial ban on smoking in workplaces and public places ("Ban smoking provincewide: McGuinty", April 8). In response to Liberal Leader McGuinty's call for a provincewide ban following a request from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Niagara Falls MPP Bart Maves has said he believes each municipality should be able to set its own smoke-free policy.
He directly contradicts Health Minister Tony Clement, who in response to an Ontario Medical Association call for provincial legislation in February said a provincewide ban is "worthy of consideration" and "certainly a decision point for us."
Clement's and Maves' boss seems to agree: in an interview in Cornwall on Feb. 13, Premier Eves said he is "willing to consider" a provincewide ban on smoking in public places.
Nearly two-thirds of Ontario's population now lives in municipalities with smoke-free restaurant and bar bylaws. While this is great progress, it also means that one-third of Ontario bar and restaurant workers and patrons continue to be exposed to a known cause of cancer, heart disease and other respiratory problems. Another high-exposure group are workers in settings like Niagara Falls' casino, which has steadfastly refused to go 100 per cent smoke-free and effectively lobbied local government to avoid regulation.
As someone who has worked on smoke-free policies with municipalities since 1995, I can assure Mr. Maves he is out of step with the times: Provincial action is both long overdue and widely supported by municipalities.
Director, Ontario Campaign for Action