Outdoor smoking ban proposal gets mixed reviews

Local politicians may favour an outdoor smoking ban... but not some Danforth patio patrons. (Photo by Naomi Grosman)
Local politicians may favour an outdoor smoking ban… but not some Danforth patio patrons. (Photo by Naomi Grosman)

On an unusually warm October afternoon, Miles Robinson and a few of his friends get together at a restaurant patio on the Danforth to have a cool drink. While they’re outside, they have no qualms about lighting up a cigarette to enjoy with their drinks.

“I believe that we have the right to smoke outside,” Robinson said. “If a bar-owner wants to allow smoking on the patio, he should be able to. ”

But smoking on patios might soon be a thing of the past. The Toronto Board of Health recently made recommendations to city council to increase the restrictions of the general city smoking ban to include public spaces such as parks, beaches and patios.

John Parker, city councillor for Ward 26/Don Valley West, is supportive of the suggestion.

“I fully support initiatives aimed at reducing smoking in public places,” Parker said. “We all recognize the health hazard of smoking and of second-hand smoke…. We want to protect innocent bystanders from the folly of others.”

One of Parker’s council colleagues, Janet Davis of Ward 31/Beaches-East York, agrees with him and the suggestion made by the health board, because, she said, smoking on patios has a negative impact on everyone close by.

“I support a further smoking ban on patios in Toronto,” Davis said. “Smoking in those areas do have an impact on both customers and staff, and I think it should be prohibited.”

But it seems that some East York customers who smoke and some East York councillors are in disagreement. Back on his Danforth patio, Robinson believes that he has the right to smoke outside — and his friend agrees.

“You should be able to smoke anywhere as long as it’s outside,” Alex Massouplos said.