Volume 96, Issue 79
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

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Smoking finally banned

By Christopher Hodge
Gazette Staff

Smoking will soon be illegal in London's bars, according to London's City Council, who voted Monday night 12-7 in favour of enacting the new bylaw.

Susan Eagle, Ward 7 city councillor and chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee, voted in favour of the ban. She said City Hall decided to initiate the ban Jul. 1, 2003, in order to provide bar owners with an opportunity to take advantage of an option in the bylaw which allows smoking in designated smoking-patios.

"It seemed reasonable to implement the ban while the weather was warm," she said.

"It's a good day for London, and for public health," said Ward 2 city councillor and Environment and Transportation Committee chair Rob Alder, who also voted in favour of the ban.

Alder said he will not be surprised if council's decision is challenged in court, but he does not expect their decision to be overturned. "We are entirely within our jurisdiction to pass such a bylaw," he said.

I think more consideration should have been given to the business owners and the people who smoke," said city controller Bud Polhill, who voted against the ban.

"This will protect non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke, and will hopefully inspire more people to quit smoking," said Graham Pollett, medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, adding he was pleased with Monday's decision.

David Dencev, general manager of The Richmond Tavern, said he was disappointed with council's decision, and he believes London bar owners can expect anywhere from a 20 to 50 per cent loss in sales as a result of the new bylaw.

"I expected more support from council," he said.

According to Ward 5 councillor and bylaw opponent Gary Williams, the new bylaw will be enforced on a complaint basis only. However, he is still confident the majority of London bar owners will comply with the new rules.

"I've always believed that Canadians are law-abiding folks," Williams said. "A few may put up some resistance, but I think most will comply with the new bylaw."

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