Smokers who thought there might be some loophole or wriggle room that would allow smoking on proliferating sidewalk patios can forget it.
And non-smokers who have to wade through a cloud of cigarette smoke on restaurant patios can rejoice.
Smoking is due to be banned on all sidewalk patios in Vancouver, says Domenic Losito, the health protection officer for Vancouver Coastal Health.
Losito said the provincial government’s recent announcement that it will ban smoking within a certain distance of entryways will likely cover 80 per cent of the city’s existing patios.
However, just in case, he plans to bring a new bylaw to city council in the near future that drives the last nail in the coffin of cigarette smoking on patios.
Both the province’s new regulations and the city’s new bylaw will likely come into effect around January 2008.
Losito said he had been preparing a draft bylaw to ban smoking on patios earlier in the year, but then the province announced its own smoking prohibitions, which included a prohibition on smoking around the entryways of buildings.
He is waiting to see exactly what the province decides is the range of the “bubble zone” around entryways before he finalizes his report. Other jurisdictions, like Washington State, ban smoking within about eight metes (25 feet) of entryways, while in Quebec it’s nine metes and in Nova Scotia, it’s four metes.
Many restaurant patios have turned into de facto smoking areas, since smoking was banned in restaurants.
A city report going to council next week has proposed a new policy to encourage more patios, by allowing them outside bars, except for those in the three blocks at the corner of the Granville street entertainment district.
One of the few negative comments about expanding patios from the public was concern about smoking on patios. The report noted that Losito’s ban would be put forward soon, in case there were concerns that bars would install patio seating in order to simply create smoking areas
“The smoking issue will not factor into the decision by the owner of a liquor establishment on whether to seek approval of an outdoor patio,”it said.
Losito also noted that many of the city’s existing patios already violate current no-smoking policy anyway, since so many of them have enclosed their spaces with plastic walls or awnings that they have restricted air flow and effectively created indoor rooms that are governed under the current bylaw.
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