An anti-smoking coalition is running an online petition to ban smoking on the Sparks Street pedestrian mall.

The president of the Ottawa Council on Smoking or Health says she has fielded dozens of complaints since last fall about second hand smoke on Sparks Street.

Carol McDonald said the city of Ottawa's new tougher smoking bylaw already bans cigarettes from outdoor patios and parks, and the outdoor mall is a similar venue.

"The Sparks Street Mall is a public venue and it has a park status and we'd like it to have protection like others parks in the bylaw have," said McDonald.

BIA head fears ban would hurt bars

Sparks Street Business Improvement Area chair Sam Elsaadi, the owner of La Mode Hair Studio, said banning smoking on the mall would drive away patrons to bars and restaurants.

"If I'm a smoker and I have to get out of the patio for a cigarette and if I have to walk 200 metres I might not come back to this restaurant," said Elsaadi.

Elsaadi says it's discriminatory to single out the Sparks Street Mall.

Carol McDonald doesn't believe bar owners should worry because Ottawa has such a low rate of smokers.

McDonald said her group would try and win over Sparks Street merchants and after that they'll begin lobbying city hall.