A proposed smoking ban that could include outdoor restaurant patios in Greater Sudbury has some bar owners and customers worried.
Staff with the city will soon be asking the public whether smoking should be banned on city property — including outside libraries, arenas and city hall.
Sean St. Jean said he's not a smoker, but doesn't mind if people do have a cigarette while on a patio.
"My personal opinion is ... it’s taking it perhaps a little too far," he said.
"You can't smoke in restaurants and I can understand and quite agree. By the same token, these people have as much a right to smoke as we have not to smoke."
The general manager of the Laughing Buddha restaurant in downtown Sudbury — which has a patio on private property — says he would comply with any bylaw. But Matt St. Pierre said he thinks a ban would hurt restaurants.
"In a business that is so hard to make money, to take away perhaps an attraction or a reason [to patronize a business] is a bit scary from our perspective," he said.
Sudbury smoking rates still high
But at least one downtown restaurant has already banned smoking on its patio.
Bob Wygant, owner of the Boulangerie du Village, said he thinks "there's [not] too many things more offensive than sitting there trying to enjoy a nice meal and smoke is drifting into your face."
In the meantime, the city's health unit is trying to determine why banning smoking inside restaurants has not significantly lowered smoking rates in Sudbury.
A public health nurse with the Sudbury District Health Unit said provincial and national smoking rates have dropped in the last 10 years, but the rate of known smokers in Sudbury is at 26 per cent.
"I think it's a continued piece of geography and culture all blended in," Francine Brunet-Fechner said.
"People are still very polite in the north and may not always voice that they don't want smoking to continue in places."
Brunet-Fechner said smoking on patios is visible to children and banning it would hopefully drop smoking rates in the future.
Sudbury city council will deliberate on the issue over the summer and is expected to make a decision this fall.
North Bay is voting on making patios smoke free later this year.