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By Stephanie Cesca and Rana Issa
British Columbia's bar and restaurant patrons may now smoke again, after the province's Supreme Court decided to drop a smoking ban.
B.C.'s Liquor Licenses and Retailers Association strenuously opposed the ban when it was first imposed by the Workers' Compensation Board on Jan. 1. The association took the WCB to court over the ban and claimed that pub and restaurant owners did not have the opportunity to publicly challenge the regulation.
The court decided to throw out the ban after it was ruled that the WCB imposed the restriction without the necessary public consultation.
Meanwhile, as Ontario's cities move towards enforcing smoking bans in bars and restaurants, the debate continues as to the advantages and disadvantages of imposing a smoking ban in such establishments.
Bill Clark, a professor of medicine at Western, said he understood why such legislation would be passed.
"I think it's dangerous," Clark said. "More so to those who work in bars. There are increased cases of lung cancer in these people. For those working in a bar and those who don't smoke, [second-hand smoke] is unfair."
However, many food and entertainment establishment owners said they did not feel the same and disliked having to ban smoking, because it would affect business.
The Regional Municipality of Kitchener-Waterloo has had a smoking ban in place since the beginning of the year.
"Whose right is it to say where we can smoke?" asked Susan Lockett, manager of Times Square, a bar in Kitchener. "Vancouver got smart. Listen to the owners. Give the choice to businesses or they'll go elsewhere."
Lockett also said she believed banning smoking in bars and pubs was a hassle and annoyance for guests. Furthermore, she said the smoking ban was terrible for business. Lockett said many businesses in the area closed down and people were losing their jobs.
Kelly Aollys, co-owner of Hooter Hotel in Waterloo, said she thought the regional smoking by-law was ridiculous. Aollys said she was happy the ban was shot down in Vancouver and said she hoped Kitchener and Waterloo would do the same. "I'm happy for them," she said. "I hope our [by-law] will change too."