The City of Toronto has fallen behind other municipalities in banning smoking where people gather outdoors and will consider new options this year, says the chair of Toronto’s Board of Health…!
Councillor John Filion was reacting to a story, noting that the Lake Simcoe community of Georgina is poised to ban smoking on beaches, in parks and on trails.
The town is among more than 50 Ontario municipalities pushing the indoor-focused 2006 Smoke-Free Ontario law to the outdoors.
Come April, Ottawa will ban smoking at all outdoor restaurant and bar patios, city-owned parks, playgrounds, beaches, sports fields and fruit and vegetable markets. Hamilton will follow suit in May, with a smoking ban on all city-owned property used for recreational purposes.
Toronto led the charge to ban smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars, and in 2009 expanded the prohibition to within nine metres of city playgrounds, splash pads and wading pools.
“I think (expanding the outdoor ban) is certainly something we should seriously consider,” Filion said in an interview Thursday.
“We were leaders in banning smoking and it seems we’ve fallen behind a bit, and that’s fine, but we need to keep moving in the right direction.
“We would need public support and the support of the board of health and city council, but I think there’s an appetite for a reasonable extension of the ban.”
Filion wouldn’t suggest possible places to outlaw smoking, saying he didn’t want to prejudge a city staff report with options that he expects to see later this year.
But he noted that last summer several people complained to him about a man puffing a cigar in the middle of a packed event at Mel Lastman Square.
“I approached the man and he was quite obnoxious,” Filion said. “It seems to me board and council might consider a ban where large numbers of people congregate and where the smoking could impact their health.”
Michael Perley, director of the , agreed with Filion that Toronto has fallen behind the pack in terms of outdoor bans.
But he argues the example set by puffing adults — not just concern over the health impacts of second-hand smoking — is enough justification for more outdoor bans.
“To have smoking modelled as an acceptable behaviour around places where kids are participating in recreation and developing healthy habits contradicts much of what we’re doing elsewhere in tobacco control,” Perley said.
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s medical officer of health, confirmed his department is studying the proposed ban for Georgina and others already enacted in other municipalities, adding that tobacco use is a major cause of illness in the city.
Factors could include second-hand smoke and the example set for children, but also the need to give residents outdoor places “supportive of non-smoking” for those trying to quit, and the “nuisance factor” that prompts many public complaints to the board, he said.
Bar and restaurant patios, where smoking is allowed in Ontario if patios are “fairly open”, are “a legitimate concern where some municipalities including Ottawa are looking to tighten up their bylaws,” McKeown added.
Would you be a supporter of a ‘no-smoking-in-crowded-public-places’ ban?