bingosmoking

Bingo hall patrons in Calgary can keep puffing until 2008. ((CBC News))

Public places in Calgary will be smoke free on Jan. 1, but bars and restaurants with separate smoking rooms, along with casinos and bingo halls have been given a one-year exemption.

After two days of debate, city council approved a smoking bylaw with the implementation date sped up a year. The new bylaw passed 11 votes to four Tuesday.

"Obviously, I am ecstatic about it," said Robyn Hauck, an anti-smoking activist who lobbied council to push the date up by a year.

"For us to be going smoke free Jan. 1, with a few exceptions, I couldn't be happier. "

Businesses that are exempt will have until Jan. 1, 2008, to comply with the bylaw.

Clouds the goal: alderman

Alderman Gord Lowe voted against the bylaw, saying changing the implementation date could land the city in court because it exempts some businesses and not others.

"You erode the effectiveness of the bylaw. You open it, in my view, to legal challenges which clouds the goal of a smoke-free Calgary," he said.

Critics have argued that smoking rooms are so poorly defined that an entire bar or restaurant could be called a smoking room.

A proposal to allow smoking on patios was snuffed out Tuesday, despite support from Alderman Ric McIver, who called it a compromise.

"This is your opportunity to work with the business community. Move up the date. Do the right thing. Satisfy the non-smokers and provide the middle ground," he argued before the proposal was voted down.