Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Finally, our city council has approved a smoking ban in all public places beginning May 1, 2003. I'm very happy about this. I'm a big fan of live music and most of the bands I like to see play in small clubs and bars. Over the past couple of years, I've curbed my attendance at shows due to the second hand smoke. When I was younger, it didn't bother me like it does now. I wasn't crazy about the way my hair and clothes smelled but a quick shower and a load of laundry later and the smoke was gone. In recent years, even brief exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke has left me feeling ill. I cough, my eyes water, and the next day I feel completely hung over (from a lack of oxygen I suppose).

I'm not sure whether my resistence is lower now or the smoke is stronger but I'm very pleased with this trend. Toronto adopted a no-smoking in restaurants bylaw a couple of years ago and Ottawa is completely non-smoking now. I don't really care if people smoke or not, I'd prefer it if they didn't (because of the effects of it on their health and eventually, the heavy tax it places on our fragile public health care system), but I don't want to have to breathe in their stinky toxic waste when I go out for dinner or to see a band. Hopefully, the ban will bring with it, a rule about not smoking within 25 feet of a building entrance.

Restaurant and bar owners were reluctant to support the ban as they felt that it would affect their sales adversely. I think that the opposite will happen. I'm sure that many folks like me, who have what feels like an allergy to smoke, will be more likely to go out in the evenings to cafes and pubs which they have avoided due to the heavy smoke.

They did make an interesting exception to the ban though...smoking will still be permitted in designated areas of bingo halls. Bingo operators and the charities who do their fundraising via bingos argued that a smoking ban in bingo halls would kill their business. Maybe it would have but I doubt it. I think that bingo is just as addictive as cigarettes, and the potential payoff is much higher.

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