Volume 95, Issue 77

Tuesday, February 19, 2002
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Dean: don't expect Toronto-like tuition

The Spoke no longer "The Smoke"

Presidential race ends with a whimper

Les femmes rural benefit from new Western chair

Nerdlinger laments lack of geeks

Trophy bandits and 500 crickets

New eateries slip through loophole

New eateries slip through loophole

By Stephanie Harris
Gazette Writer

Although enforcement of London's new smoking bylaw starts today, new restaurants will be smokers' havens for at least a year.

A loophole in the bylaw allows new establishments a one-year grace period before they are required to officially define their organization as a bar or restaurant and consequently, allow or restrict smoking within.

The bylaw states that all establishments which receive more than one-third of their revenue from food sales will be declared restaurants and not permitted to allow smoking. Bars are exempt from the bylaw.

"[The exemption for new establishments] is not really a loophole. It was written in so that new restaurants would be given the time to stabilize their revenues," said Ward Three city councilor Fred Tranquilli, who is also a member of the community and protective services committee that helped draft the bylaw.

Graham Pollett, chief medical officer for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, also said the exemption is not a loophole – it simply gives new establishments time to determine whether their revenue qualifies them as bars or as restaurants.

Pollett said he does not know why people are surprised about the exemption, noting it is not a new addition to the bylaw.

"Most people opening up a new establishment know whether or not they're intending it to be a bar or a restaurant," said Tara McIntyre, manager of Jack Astor's on Fanshawe Park Road.

McIntyre said city council and the health unit made the terms of the smoking ban clear to her restaurant, but also noted she finds the grace period for new establishments unfair.

"If there is a ban, it should apply to all establishments across the city," McIntyre said.

Tranquilli said there are "laws in place" to prevent establishments from closing down and reopening on a daily basis.

"If it was proven that a place was intentionally trying to circumvent the non-smoking bylaw, it would be handled by the laws in place," he said.

Ovidio Catulli, manager of the newly-opened restaurant Nove Nove, formerly called Maza, said his restaurant currently allows smoking only at the bar.

There are a number of places exempt from the smoking bylaw other than new restaurants, including bingo halls, bowling alleys and private clubs.

However, Tranquilli said he is confident that a full smoking ban, which has already been proposed by council, will be in effect by the end of this year.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002