City of Regina poised to ban smoking on patios, playgrounds

A City of Regina committee has recommended adopting a new smoking bylaw that will prohibit smoking or vaping in many outdoor areas, such as patios and playgrounds, by July 15.

Changes could take effect July 15

The percentage of Canadians who smoke has fallen from about 50 per cent in the mid-1960s to about 20 per cent in 2013. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

Lighting up or vaping on a patio in Regina may soon be a thing of the past.

The City of Regina is poised to replace its current smoking bylaw — which deals with indoor areas — with a new set of rules also banning smoking in many outdoor places, starting July 15.

If city council passes the new smoking bylaw, here's where you won't be allowed to smoke

  • Outdoor seating areas in bars and restaurants
  • All outdoor public events or festivals on city-owned or leased property
  • Within 10 metres of all city-owned recreation facilities such as parks, playgrounds, splash pads, off-leash areas, picnic tables, athletic fields and stadiums (an increase from a three-metre buffer zone)
  • Within 10 metres of doors and windows of public buildings (an increase from a three-metre buffer zone)

The only exceptions would be smoking in the context of traditional Indigenous ceremonies and while testing products in vape retail shops.

Vaping would not be permitted in indoor areas where smoking is already prohibited under Saskatchewan's Tobacco Control Act.

Under the new bylaw, smoking would still be allowed in parks or open spaces away from recreation facilities.

City hall will consider introducing a new that bylaw prohibiting smoking on patios of bars or restaurants. Saskatoon's patios have been smoke-free since 2004. (CBC)

Strong support from non-smokers, health groups

Once approved, the new smoking bylaw would replace the current set of rules that have been in place since 2000.

Mayor Michael Fougere and other councillors indicated in December 2016 they wanted to review the bylaw and introduce new restrictions to smoking in public places and the use of vapourizers.

Currently, there's no bylaw to stop smoking on patios in the city. Saskatoon's patios have been smoke-free for 13 years. 

Public consultations were launched in February, and city administration said there was strong public support for introducing rules to ban smoking in outdoor spaces, in a report provided to the city's executive committee.

In total, the city received more than 9,400 responses, 4,300 comments and 48 emails from members of the public. It said 80 per cent of respondents indicated they were non-smokers or former smokers, while 14 per cent smoked.

A majority of participants at two open houses were also in support of banning smoking in outdoor seating areas and at festivals, the report added, though there was also some support for allowing smoking in designated areas at open-air events.

Health groups in the province have previously raised concerns that Regina is falling behind other jurisdictions in Canada that already have enacted provisions against smoking in outdoor areas.  

Committee recommends change

The city's executive committee met in-camera on April 12 and recommended the move to adopt a new smoking bylaw. 

The matter now goes to city council. Its next meeting is May 29. 

If passed, the new bylaw would take effect on July 15. The city says that will give businesses enough time to adjust to the change and put up new signage, and allow the city to launch education campaigns.

How do Regina's rules compare to the rest of Canada?

Regina and Winnipeg are the last two major Canadian cities that still allow smoking on restaurant and bar patios. 

Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Yukon have all legislated against smoking in outdoor seating areas.