Smoking will be banned on bar and restaurant patios starting January 1 as part of changes announced Friday to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
The ban will extend to children’s playgrounds and public sports fields and ice rinks as well, along with an additional prohibition on smoking within 20 metres of them, said Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla.
She also served notice that tobacco sales will be banned on college and university campuses as part of a ramped-up effort to curb smoking among impressionable young adults.
The moves will end a “patchwork” of municipal bans across the province when it comes to patios and parks, Damerla told reporters at a downtown child care centre.
“It makes sense to do it now.”
The moves were applauded by antismoking advocates including Michael Perley of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, who said it was “very important to finish the job” of banning smoking on patios to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.
Smoking has been prohibited under covered patios but has been allowed on ones open to the air.
“When young people see people smoking on a patio . . . that sends a message that smoking is not all that bad,” Perley said.
However, he said the government still needs to ban smoking outside entrances to office and apartment buildings, for example, and improve smoking cessation programs so that smokers who fail nicotine replacement therapy don’t fall through the cracks.
Rowena Pinto of the Canadian Cancer Society noted that lung cancer deaths outnumber those from several other forms of cancer, including breast and colon.
The ban on campus sales “sends a message to the tobacco industry,” she added.