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Smokers burned by new law
By Dan Leinwand
Smokers in London are about to be hit with more restrictions on their deadly habit.
On Jan. 1, 2002, a bylaw passed in 1996 will come into full effect and prohibit smoking in all London restaurants.
Ruby Brewer, co-ordinator of the Council for a Tobacco-Free Community explained her organization, along with the London branch of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, negotiated the bylaw in 1995 and there has been ample time for restaurants to prepare for the new restrictions.
"The bylaw has been phased in since 1996 by gradually increasing the percentage of the restaurant that is designated non-smoking," she said. "Currently, London restaurants are to be 75 per cent non-smoking and on Jan. 1, that percentage will be expanded to 100."
In the new year, businesses will have to choose between designating themselves as either a restaurant or bar, with the understanding that people under age 19 will not be permitted inside a bar.
Mark Sellars, general manager of the University Students' Council, said while The Spoke will be unaffected, The Wave will likely have to make some adjustments
"The Spoke is designated a bar and would stay the same, but The Wave would have to adjust to any stipulations laid down by the city," he said.
Peter Iglitis, general manager of TJ Baxter's Bar & Grill, is worried the bylaw will have economic effects specifically related to the student population.
"Throughout the school year, a substantial amount of our sales come from students with a Western 1 card," he said. "Since the next few years will see more students who are under 19, we would seriously have to consider becoming a non-smoking establishment."
Despite this, Brewer said economic factors should not be the primary concern when it comes to new smoking restrictions.
"By in large, health was our number one concern. Our thoughts were with second-hand smokers, namely the customers and employees of the restaurant," Brewer said.
"Employees who work in smoking environments are double as likely to develop lung cancer and have a 35 per cent more chance of heart disease," she said.
Sandy Levin, ward 1 city councillor, echoed Brewer's sentiment, noting local establishments seem to be choosing profits before people's health.
"A bar and a restaurant can coexist under one roof, so the worst case scenario is that a proprietor can geographically define their bar as being all of their establishment. My fear is that as a result [of this], London will be the only city in North America to have increased smoking in public spaces," he said.
with files from Jessica Leeder