Fri 15 Aug 2003
Jim Hanley may want to look at the fate of other anti-smoke-free bylaw municipal candidates before making opposition to the Niagara smoke-free bylaw his main campaign position ("Bar owners rally over smoking bylaw", 30 July).
Following implementation of the Region of Waterloo's precedent-setting 100 per cent smoke-free bar and restaurant bylaw in January 2000, at least four candidates ran against councillors who supported the bylaw in the November 2000 municipal election, with the specific objective of reopening and reversing the bylaw. These candidates all lost. In Peterborough, the same thing happened to two candidates who ran against sitting councillors, promising to reopen that city's smoke-free bylaw.
What Mr. Hanley and candidates like him seem not to understand is that smoke-free bylaws have wide public support in all parts of the province. Today, 83 per cent of Ontario residents live in municipalities which have passed (and in many cases implemented) bylaws making bars and restaurants 100 per cent smoke-free.
Some, like Niagara region, allow the use of designated smoking rooms (DSRs). Unfortunately, experience with DSRs in York and Peel regions and the City of Toronto have shown that proprietors routinely misuse them by leaving doors open, allowing children into them, turning ventilation systems off, and building workstations in them, thus forcing workers to continue to be exposed to a known cause of cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. From a business point of view, smoking rooms are fundamentally unfair because only larger establishments with sufficient revenue have the space and the money to build them, thus putting smaller establishments at a disadvantage.
For these reasons, it would not be surprising if Niagara regional council revisited the smoking room issue, and council would no doubt receive the support of many local hospitality proprietors in doing so.
Director, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco