The Toronto Board of Health has voted to begin public consultations on expanding city smoking bylaws to include virtually all public spaces.
The public will get the chance to weigh in on the issue late this year or in early 2013.
The board heard from deputants on the issue Monday, including Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco.
The expanded ban would cover restaurant and bar patios, the areas on and around sports fields, hospital grounds, public squares and building entrances.
The proposal comes from the city’s medical officer of health Dr. David McKeown.
“We’ll be going out to consult with the public, institutions, and businesses that may be affected, on some new ways of protecting people from second hand smoke,” said McKeown.
Marco Monaco of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association raised concerns that such extreme restrictions would hurt business.
“What we are trying to do is balance out the dialogue in terms of public health needs as well as economic needs that our industry operators have,” said Monaco.
Under the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA) passed by the provincial government in 2006, smoking is banned on covered patios.
Dr. McKeown wants to ban smoking on all patios where food and drinks are served. He wants to consult with various stakeholders, including municipal licensing and standards, parks and recreation staff, business owners and residents before reporting back to the board in 2013.
Smoking is already banned on all school grounds and sports fields, and also near public playgrounds, wading pools and splash pads. Dr. McKeown wants a ban in more outdoor recreation areas, particularly on city-run sports fields and in spectator areas. Thirty-one other municipalities, including Barrie, Hamilton and Vaughan, have similar rules, he said.
The SFOA also prohibits smoking within nine metres of hospital entrances, and McKeown wants an all-out ban on hospital grounds.
With files from Shawne McKeown