The City of Regina's executive committee has proposed even tougher amendments to the smoking and vaping bylaw than administration had suggested.

On Wednesday, the committee, which is made up of all city councillors, voted in favour of banning smoking and vaping at all city-owned spaces at all times.

City administration had recommended banning smoking at public events and within 10 metres of playgrounds and other city-owned recreational facilities. 

But committee members pushed for tougher amendments to the smoking bylaw to include all city-owned spaces, like parks and golf courses, and to ban smoking whether there is an event taking place or not. 

That means Victoria Park and the City Square Plaza would be off-limits to smokers. 

Besides these public areas, people would also not be able to smoke in outdoor seating areas at bars and restaurants or within 10 metres of doors and windows of public buildings.

'A public safety issue'

Ward 7 Coun. Sharron Bryce said Regina residents had been expressing concerns about smoking in public areas to her and other members of council.

"It was a public safety issue — people with asthma; people who don't want to be breathing in smoke," Bryce said. "Cancer is caused by smoking as well. My own father passed away from lung cancer from smoking." 

Ward 1 Coun. Barbara Young said the option the committee is pushing for will bring the city on par with others in the country when it comes to smoking regulations. She said it will also provide clarity to the public. 

"When you're in a public space with people in it, whether they're children or adults, smoking would not be allowed," she said.

There would be exemptions to the ban, such as traditional Indigenous ceremonies and testing vaping supplies in retail stores.

Businesses feel the burn

Jim Bence, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association, said he would have preferred businesses have a choice in the matter.

"We'd always prefer that decisions like this are left up to the business owner, because it's based on what the customer's going to tell them," Bence said. 

He said there likely wouldn't be a significant number of people forgoing a night out due to a ban on smoking or vaping on restaurant and bar patios. 

But Bence worried about the possibility of bylaw enforcement levying fines on businesses instead of customers, similar to underage drinking fines.

"Like many things, depending on how the legislation is written, it will be that the fine could — and probably would — go to the business operator," he said.

According city administration's report, studies have shown that smoking bylaw enforcement has been relatively easy in other cities, with most smokers complying.

Outdoor seating areas in restaurants and licensed premises have been smoke-free in Saskatoon since 2004. Nearly 1,000 establishments were inspected within a year and only one was handed a ticket for not having the required no-smoking signs, the report says.

Regina city council may vote on the amendment as early as May 29. 

With files from Stephanie Taylor