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1989: Last day to smoke on domestic flights

The Story

On Dec. 30, 1989, it becomes illegal to smoke on commercial flights between Canadian cities. The ban is part of the Non-Smokers' Health Act. Benoît Bouchard, the transport minister, says the rule is necessary to protect the health of airline workers and passengers bothered by smoke. The big airlines are pressuring the government not to apply the new rule to international flights. They say smokers from Europe and Japan in particular will switch airlines rather than spend hours in the air without a cigarette. CBC reporter Deborah Lamb says Air Canada fears the ban will cost the company $40 million a year. The government gives in. The law being passed today makes only flights within Canada smoke-free.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 18, 1989
Guest(s): Benoît Bouchard, Terry Francis, Ken Kyle, Gar Mahood, Brock Stewart
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Deborah Lamb
Duration: 2:37

Did You know?

• In 1990 the federal government announced that smoking would be banned on international flights of six hours or less. Four years later Canada became the first country to require that its air carriers make all flights, domestic and international, smoke-free.

• In 1992 Canada urged other countries to help clear the air with a resolution that was adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization. It urged countries to "take necessary measures as soon as possible to restrict smoking progressively on all international passenger flights with the objective of implementing complete smoking bans by 1 July, 1996."

• Russia's Aeroflot was one of the last major international carriers to allow smoking on some flights. It made all flights smoke-free on March 31, 2002, after a customer survey showed two-thirds of Aeroflot fliers supported such a ban.

• Although many Canadian fliers welcomed smoke-free flights, the momentum for change came from airline employees. "Sitting on a long flight having to endure cigarette smoke, while dangerous for passengers, is far more dangerous to flight attendants who have to work in a blue haze," said Donna Hendrick, an airline employees' union representative, in 1994.

Also on December 29:
1919: Sir William Osler dies in Oxford, England at 70. Born in Bond Head, Ontario, Osler is known as "the father of clinical medicine" because he emphasized a patient's state of mind in achieving a cure.
1944: Royal Canadian Air Force Flight Lt. Richard Joseph "Dick" Audet shoots down five German planes in two minutes during the Second World War.
1989: Vaclav Havel is elected president of the Czech Republic ending 40 years of rule under the Communist Party.


Butting Out: The Slow Death of Smoking in Canada more