New law bans smoking in enclosed areas across Ontario

New Law Keeps Smokers Outside

At 12:01am this morning, a smoking ban took effect making smoking illegal in all enclosed public places across Ontario including offices, bars, restaurants and even roofed patios.

Following the lead of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the new Ontario law will have a profound impact on the way bars and restaurants — especially those that have previously constructed designated smoking rooms — operate within Toronto. In addition to banning smoking in all enclosed places (including hotels, private clubs, sports arenas, and casinos), the new law also restricts tobacco promotion, with a full ban on cigarette displays in effect starting in 2008.

Toronto business owners can take solace in the fact that establishments breaking the new law will get a warning for their first offence, allowing patrons and owners to get used to the new legislation, unlike in Quebec, where all offendors will be faced with large fines. Even then, many Toronto bar owners are worried about the ramifications that the new law will have on business.

Geoffrey Fong of the University of Waterloo's International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation discards those fears by stating studies that show "that there is either no negative impact or a positive impact on businesses that have gone smoke-free." Even then, some owners are wary: John McKillop, who owns the Elsewhere Bar & Grill, has already decided to close up shop because of the perceived drop in bar patrons.

So what does the new Smoke Free Ontario Act mean for the average smoker in Toronto? Well, with the heat and smog making it almost oppressive to stand outside, many smokers will have to settle for getting their nicotine fix at home. Some smokers have decided to use the new law as a impetus for change: Glen Gallagher, a patron at the Hoops Bar and Grill, claimed that "it will still be kind of a drag that I can't smoke anymore, but I'm trying to quit anyway."


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