Quebec tobacco control law now in full effect

The final phase of an revamped law aiming to curb smoking in Quebec took effect on Saturday.

As part of the final phase of the law, smokers must now stand away from building entrances

More than 150 Quebec municipalities banded together in support of the stronger tobacco law. (Reuters)

The final phase of a revamped law aiming to curb smoking in Quebec takes effect on Saturday.

Smokers must now stand nine metres away from any opening door, window or air intake of any public or private establishment.

The Tobacco Control Act — formerly known as the Tobacco Act — was introduced to crack down on smoking in the province. When it was enacted on November 26, 2015, the government said it was an effort to stop young people from taking up smoking, while also protecting the public from the dangers of second-hand smoke, and encouraging current smokers to kick the habit.

Over the past year, different phases of the law have restricted the sale, marketing and use of tobacco in Quebec.

That includes increased fines for offences, regulations around the use of electronic cigarettes, restrictions on marketing and packaging and now, restrictions on where cigarettes can be smoked in public. The law also bans smoking on restaurant and bar patios.

Businesses such as restaurants and bars that repeatedly allow customers to smoke on their terrasses could face fines of $100,000.

Law needs clarification, says bar owners' group

The president of the Quebec Bar Owners' Association said the final phase of the law — which requires smokers to stand nine metres away from entrances of public or private institutions — penalizes some bars and restaurants more than others.

Peter Sergakis said the rules don't apply to buildings that are immediately next to municipal sidewalks, meaning at bars and restaurants in downtown Montreal, smokers will still be able to gather right outside most doors.

Sergakis said the law unfairly penalizes suburban and regional bars.

"That's the people that are going to suffer — the bar owners and restaurant owners because they are the ones that have more space, private spaces, in front of the property," he said.

He's asking the provincial government to suspend the new rules until his group receives clarifications.