Quebec bans patio smoking
Published Wednesday, May 25, 2016 8:14PM EDT
Quebec smokers will no longer be able to light up on bar and restaurant patios as of this week.
"It's a bit annoying," Marc-Antoine Gervais told The Canadian Press as he enjoyed a puff on a pub patio in downtown Montreal. "It's blocking my rights."
The ban, which comes into effect on Thursday, also makes it illegal to smoke near playgrounds, sports fields and schools, in the common areas of small residential buildings, or in cars if there’s a passenger under the age of 16. The new rules, which also apply to e-cigarettes, can result in a fine of up to 750 dollars if broken.
Although smoking rates are dropping across North America, in Quebec, 20,000 young people are still picking up the habit every year. Statistics Canada says that 19.6 per cent of people in Quebec smoked in 2014, slightly above the national average of 18.1 per cent. The Canadian Cancer Society says that more than 800 Canadians die from second-hand smoke each year.
Quebec previously banned smoking in public places like bars and offices in 2006. Although restauranteurs enjoyed a slight increase in business after the ban, bars reported a six per cent decline in business.
“The problem is you just push the problem away a little bit,” Association des Restaurateurs du Québec spokesperson Dominique Tremblay told CTV Montreal. “People are just going to be beside the terrasse, and they’re going to smoke there.”
Quebec joins most provinces in instituting the ban. Only Saskatchewan and British Columbia still allow patio puffing.
For non-smoker Marianne Allaire, the new law is a breath of fresh air.
"I have rights too," she told The Canadian Press while sitting with a friend on a sidewalk patio in Montreal. "I choose not to smoke and I appreciate that I'm here and I don't have the smoke come to me, so it's good."
With files from CTV Montreal and The Canadian Press.