City hall is moving ahead with a plan to study the possibility of a patio-smoking ban with eye to having Winnipeggers butt out in public in 2018.
Council's protection, community services and parks committee voted Monday to approve a motion by Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) to review what other Canadian municipalities do with regard to patio smoking and seek consultation on changing the current outdoor-smoking bylaw to include patios.
The plan is to have a ban in place next summer, though some proponents of patio-smoking bans want the city to act sooner.
Two of Manitoba's largest anti-smoking groups appeared the committee to move immediately to ban all forms of smoking and vaping on outdoor patios at bars and restaurants.
In a statement issued before the meeting, the Canadian Cancer Society and Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA) said Winnipeg must catch up with other major Canadian cities.
"The time for study and consultation is over,'' said Erin Crawford, the Canadian Cancer Society's senior director of public issues and community engagement.
"We believe that this is a matter of urgency and requires action now before the summer ends.'' - Murray Gibson, executive director of MANTRA
"Winnipeg is being left behind. The science is clear, and hundreds of communities throughout Canada that have already implemented this sort of ban.
"We are the only major city in the country without a ban. Winnipeggers deserve the same protection."
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"Our surveys show the vast majority of Winnipeggers support this action and for the sake of public health, we need to get on with it," added Murray Gibson, executive director of MANTRA.
The two groups intend to also urge the city to extend smoke-free zones to include city parks, sport fields, skate parks as well as public festivals and events.
In May, Winnipeg became the last major city in Canada to ban smoking on outdoor patios after Regina city council made the move.
"We believe that this is a matter of urgency and requires action now before the summer ends,'' Gibson said. "This will ensure this prohibition is widely known and firmly in place before the 2018 patio season."
The World Health Organization has stated there is no safe level of exposure to second‐hand smoke, even outdoors, the Canadian Cancer Society noted.
"Second‐hand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, 70 of which are known to cause cancer, [and] research from around the world shows that non‐smokers can be exposed to almost as much second‐hand smoke in outdoor places, like restaurant patios, as they are indoors," the society said.
It added that every year, more than 800 Canadians who don't smoke die from second-hand smoke.
"Research conducted in Ontario found that a family innocently eating dinner on a patio can be exposed to these harmful chemicals from someone lighting up four tables over,'' Gibson said.
Crawford pointed out that most smokers start before the age of 18, so a patio ban prevents smoking or vaping from becoming normal behaviour.
"If you have children or grandchildren under 10, chances are that they have not seen too many people smoke or vape in their lifetime," she said. "That's a good thing because it reduces the social pressure to start."
Scott Jocelyn of the Manitoba Hotel Association appeared before the committee to oppose a blanket patio-smoking ban and recommend some flexibility.
"Let's be careful. Let's not paint all patios with the same brush," he said, arguing there's a difference between restaurant patios and outdoor smoking areas at bars.