Anti-tobacco group calls for more inspectors

The Quebec government says it's choosing education over fines when it comes to enforcing its new non-smoking laws.

Since July, it's been illegal to smoke in almost all public places, and smoking has been severely restricted in restaurants. But the government has handed out only six tickets. The government has ten inspectors patrolling the entire province. But they are all based in Quebec City, and they visit a restaurant or a workplace only after a complaint.

Dr. Odette Laplante is with the health department. She says the government can use methods other than inspectors to get people to co-operate.

"I think we have to be strict with the way the act is enforced," Laplante says. "But we also give people time to work out solutions."

The Non-Smoker's Rights Association's supports the province's decision to educate people before it hands out fines.

But the association's Franois Damphousse says Quebec needs more inspectors.

"Take the police force," he says. "When they are on the road to enforce speed limits, you don't only have 14 officers to control all the roads. There has to be more than that." Damphousse says Quebec isn't spending nearly enough money to enforce the law.

The government insists it's doing a good job making sure the law is followed in the 230,000 establishments to which it applies.

But Laplante says the government is planning to do more. It has put ads in newspapers looking to hire four more inspectors.