Anti-tobacco advocates call for smoking ban on terrasses

Now that the warmer weather is here, anti-smoking groups are calling on the Quebec government to smoking on terrasses.

Quebec government says it’s considering banning lighting up on restaurant and bar patios

Outdoor restaurant patios are already smoke-free zones in four provinces and one territory. (CBC)

Now that the warmer weather is here, anti-smoking groups are calling on the Quebec government to ban smoking on terrasses.

"The majority of Quebecers are non-smokers and they would like to be able to enjoy a good drink and being outdoors without being exposed to smoke,” said François Damphousse, director of the Quebec Non-Smokers' Rights Association.

Damphousse says studies show that smoking — even outside — affects air quality.

“When you are in close proximity to a smoker, you are exposed to all the carcinogens that are found in environmental tobacco smoke, and this is especially important for the workers. They are working in the bars and restaurants for long hours.”

Four other provinces and one territory — Alberta, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Yukon — have already banned smoking on terrasses and Damphousse said he thinks it’s time for Quebec to catch up.

Bad for business, merchants say

The Quebec government says it is looking into the idea, but a spokesperson told CBC there is no timeline on when a change may come.

Bar owners and workers say extending the province’s no-smoking ban to include outdoor patios would be ineffective.

“People will just smoke right beside the terrasse, so it won't change anything,” said Lamia Hamici, manager at Juliette et chocolat.

Peter Sergakis, who owns several bars in Montreal, said prohibiting customers from smoking on terrasses would hurt business.

"If that table wants to smoke, they have to go outside [and leave]. While they are doing that, they are going to have one drink less," Sergakis said, adding that he doesn’t believe studies quoted by non-smoking groups.

Sergakis said he is hiring his own firm to test the air quality on his terrasses.