Monday, March 31, 2008

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette, but step, step be sure to take those three metre steps

New smoking regulations came into effect in British Columbia on Monday, changing the way that British Columbia store owners can sell their tobacco products and moving smokers even further away from the provinces drinking establishments.

The Tobacco Control Act bans smoking in all indoor public spaces and workplaces, as well as smoking within three metres of public and workspace doorways, open windows or air intakes. Locally Northern Health will be tasked with the job of enforcing the new provisions of the act, which includes some hefty fines for those businesses that choose to blow smoke in the faces of the law makers.

The new rules expand further from the days of designated smoking rooms, which saw the provinces drinking establishments spend thousands of dollars in renovations and ventilation systems for their pubs and clubs, all gone up in smoke and made redundant with the revisions that took place today.

The Daily News featured the local reaction to the new regulations with a story in Monday's paper.

Smokers told to take it outside as laws change
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, March 31, 2008
Page three

New tobacco regulations went into effect this morning across British Columbia, meaning smoking in indoor public spaces and workplaces in Prince Rupert is now - officially - a thing of the past.
The new regulations under the Tobacco Control Act ban smoking in all indoor public spaces and workplaces, as well as smoking within three metres of public and workspace doorways, open windows or air intakes. Enforcement officers employed by Northern Health will be responsible for the day-to-day enforcement of the new laws, and smokers or businesses who fail to comply with the smoke-free provision may be subject to a fine. Business owners, operators and lessees can now be fined $575 for permitting tobacco use in a prohibited space or permitting tobacco use in a workplace, and smokers can be fined $58 for smoking or holding lit tobacco in a prohibited place.

"These new regulations bring significant and positive change to B.C. and are a great step toward our goals of reducing tobacco use and the effect of second-hand smoke on British Columbians," said Health Minister George Abbott.

"We know that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke and by ensuring that public spaces and work places are smoke-free, we are working to create the healthiest environment for all British Columbians and to reduce the impact of tobacco use on our health system."
One group in Prince Rupert that will be affected directly by the new regulations are restaurant and bar operators and owners, who until now have been allowed to operate designated smoking rooms in their establishments.

"I think it's something that is going to happen and there's no changing that," said Patty Barki, manager of the Ocean View Hotel.

"It was bound to happen, and I think it's going to make it easier for the younger generation to quit. In terms of service staff, it'll be a change because now they will have to take their 15-minute break in order to leave the building and have a cigarette. I think the older generation is seeing it as much more of a problem, but the younger generation realizes and sees it as the large health issue that it is."

Businesses like the Ocean View Hotel will now have some decisions to make around having customers leave the building and remain three metres away from the entrance while they smoke.

Ted Sylvester is an owner of Breaker's Pub, and while he doesn't believe the new regulations will affect the business greatly, what upsets him is the $40,000 they spent to build their smoking room.

"I think it's pretty sad when they made us spend all that money on them, and I imagine some businesses throughout the province spent up to a couple hundred thousand for theirs," said Sylvester. "I wish they would have just made up their mind and done one thing. But in Vancouver-proper it's been like this for years. So there are always a few people who are diehard smokers, but they'll have to go outside like everybody else. The trouble is your smokers are usually your best drinkers, but the good thing is all businesses are in the same boat and they've got nowhere else to go."

The local outcomes of these new regulations remain to be seen, one unknown variable being the ways in which local restaurants and bars will deal with smoking on patios.

There is currently no regulation outlawing it, but since smoking needs to occur three metres from doorways or open windows, it may be difficult for some of the city's businesses to work around that stipulation.

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