Nova Scotia

Why Halifax's crackdown on smoking might be bad for business

Concerns range from staff having nowhere to go for a smoke break to visitors from out of town being punished for lighting up.

'Nobody is going to come to my pub if they know someone is going to be ratting them out'

A smoker lights a cigarette in downtown Halifax Wednesday. (CBC)

Erik Greiner can already imagine all the awkward interactions with customers once Halifax's smoking ban kicks in later this year.

The bylaw bans people from smoking cigarettes and cannabis, as well as vaping, on sidewalks, streets and all other municipal properties. If caught smoking in the wrong place, the fine can be up to $2,000.

"Do I have to call the cops and tell them, look, somebody's smoking outside my premises? Nobody is going to come to my pub if they know someone is going to be ratting them out basically to the tobacco cops," said Erik Greiner, the general manager of The Old Triangle alehouse.

But it's not just customers that are a concern. Some staff at the establishment who smoke will have nowhere to go to light up during shifts of up to nine hours.

"I just don't know how I'm going to handle it yet with staff," Greiner said. "There's nowhere here on the property that I can designate as a smoking zone for them."

'Strange and wrong'

Cheryl Doherty, co-owner of The Old Triangle, said she doesn't smoke, but said she sees flaws with the so-called respecting nuisances bylaw that Halifax regional council passed in 13-3 vote.

"You're taking a product that is legal and heavily taxed and revenue-generating for the government, and you're turning the people who use that product into criminals? It seems strange and wrong," she said.

Elias Batar, owner of E-ssentials Vape Shop, said vaping shouldn't be lumped in with smoking tobacco and cannabis.

"I think vaping is a lot less invasive than cigarette smoke just because the smell," he said. "If I vape right now inside, it'll smell like strawberries and cream."

Batar said it now seems that there's as much stigma related to vaping as there is toward cigarettes.

On Tuesday, municipal staff said the new rules around smoking will mean a change in mindset for smokers. It means they will need to look for a sign where smoking is allowed rather than looking for no-smoking signs.

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia


  • A previous version of this story stated changes to the smoking bylaw would go into effect by Labour Day. In fact, the municipality expects the bylaw changes to be put in place a few weeks before cannabis becomes legal in mid-October.
    Jul 22, 2018 2:21 PM AT

With files from Jenny Cowley