Legions, First Nations exempt from new anti-smoking rules

The list of spots where smokers can spark up is getting shorter, but there are still some exceptions.
Tenants who lived in apartments before a rule banning smoking in apartments took effect can still smoke indoors.

The list of spots where smokers can spark up is getting shorter.

As of Jan. 1, all outdoor sports fields, playgrounds, skating rinks, beaches and restaurant patios are off limits.

But if you're on a Legion patio, smoking is allowed.

Legions were exempt under previous municipal bylaws, and that exemption has been carried over into Ontario's new law said Michael Perley, director of the Ontario campaign for Action on Tobacco.

"What isn't really clear is why a policy like the one that has just come in a week ago that's extended to patios should continue this exemption," he said.

"The original exemption for legions doesn't make much sense from any health point of view."

Perley joined Jason Turnbull on CBC Radio's Up North to discuss the exceptions to the new smoking rules:

We speak with an anti-smoking advocate about the exceptions to the new smoking rules that came into effect Jan. 1. 9:28

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None of the Smoke Free Ontario Act, including smoking inside a restaurant or even an office, applies on First Nations reserves either — although some reserves have passed their own bylaws against smoking.

A senior policy analyst for the Grand Chief of the Anishnabek Nation, which includes 39 First Nations in Ontario, said a wholesale strategy for regulation is not a good fit for First Nations communities.
Many organizations including Health Sciences North in Sudbury have brought in their own policies on smoking. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

"The idea of regulating people with a blanket approach is a completely foreign concept," Jody Kechego said. So that's a Canadian government and Ontario government perspective," he said.

However, regardless of cultural considerations, Perley said he hopes more First Nations will ban smoking in areas like restaurants and patios, because of the health consequences.

"It's taken some time to get us to the point where we now have a province-wide regulation. It's very unfortunate that First Nations don't see the need to do that, because we do know that this is a very dangerous substance," Perley said.

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