No smoking on patios: report

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Ottawa Sun

Written by Jon Willing in the Ottawa Sun

Customers dying for a lung dart must aim for the restaurant’s exit doors if council approves a smoking ban on Ottawa patios.

One prominent franchise is warning the city of obvious complications.

Jonathan Hatchell, vice-president of The Royal Oak pubs, foresees problems with smokers crowding sidewalks and leaving their butts, plus safety issues around people leaving drinks unattended.

He fears bylaw officers will focus on large, well-known businesses for smoking enforcement.

“As they always do, they go after the easy target, which are restauranteurs,” Hatchell said Monday after public health announced its recommendations.

“It does sometimes feel like we’re trying to make an honest living and things are being thrown at us, more regulations.”

Dr. Isra Levy, the city’s medial officer of health, said he understands concerns about litter, so public health is setting aside funds for “butt boxes,” along with no smoking signs for patios.

Public health has $1.8 million for smoke-free programs and most of it comes from the province. Officials also want to beef up programs that help people quit smoking.

Levy said the suggested prohibition — along with proposed smoking bans at city parks, beaches and outside municipal facilities, like City Hall — would make Ottawa a healthier city.

Public health also wants to ban smoking inside stalls at the Byward and Parkdale markets.

Levy said a consultation process collected feedback from the public, including smokers who approve of the anti-smoking regulations.

“I think we’re seeing an understanding and a respect for non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke and I think even smokers particularly don’t want to be inconveniencing or annoying the rest of their fellow citizens,” Levy told a news conference.

According city research, 15% of residents 19 and older smoke tobacco.

“What we’re really doing is catching up with our population,” said Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes, chairwoman of the health board.

“The people in Ottawa want to see less smoking.” Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais, who has been calling for an expanded smoking ban to protect kids, applauded public health for drafting a “pragmatic and balanced” proposal.

“I haven’t heard from a single business owner who has concerns,” Blais said.

If the health board and council approves the ban, bylaw officers will start warning violators in April and begin writing $305 tickets in July.

“We expect a very high rate of voluntary compliance within the regulation,” bylaw chief Linda Anderson said.