Ontario to ban smoking on patios, sports fields and playgrounds

TORONTO – Smokers will no longer be allowed to light up on bar or restaurant patios, playgrounds, and sports fields beginning next year.

The Ontario government says it is making changes to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act in order to “protect children and youth from the harmful effects of smoking.”

Starting Jan. 1, 2015, it will also be illegal to sell tobacco products on university and college campuses.

The Liberals also plan to reintroduce legislation that would extend a prohibition on sales of candy and fruit-flavoured tobacco products to youth to a total sales ban.

Associate Health Minister Dipika Dameria said she’s confident the new restrictions won’t hurt businesses in Ontario.

“When we first introduced a ban on smoking inside restaurants and bars, there was a lot of concern raised that it would throw restaurants and bars out of business, but the evidence shows that did not happen,” said Dameria.

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The Canadian Cancer Society applauded the move calling the “courageous new tobacco control measures” a way to further curb smoking behaviour among youth.

“Creating smoke-free outdoor spaces and patios not only protects the public and workers from second-hand smoke but also reduces social exposure to smoking behaviour,” said Canadian Cancer Society Public Affairs Vice-President Rowena Pinto in a media release.

“The less that youth are exposed to adult smoking, the less likely they are to view it as normal behaviour and to start smoking.”

Tobacco claims approximately 13,000 lives each year and costs the provincial health care system an estimated $2.2 billion in costs and another $5.3 billion in indirect costs.

WATCH: Associate Health Minister Dipika Dameria announces the new smoking ban

The Progressive Conservatives support the plan to further restrict smoking but say the plan doesn’t go far enough to combat illegal cigarettes.

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“It doesn’t address the fact that students can buy 200 cigarettes in a baggie for $8,” said PC health critic Christine Elliott.

And NDP health critic France Gelinas said the Liberals should have also banned the sales of candy and fruit-flavoured tobacco products.

“They know that this is how kids start to smoke in 2014, through flavoured tobacco that is marketed, priced, packaged and targeted especially for them,” said Gelinas.

The Liberals however said they would be introducing legislation to ban flavoured tobacco products later this year.

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