Volume 96, Issue 71
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

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Last stand against city smoking bylaw

By Christopher Hodge
Gazette Staff

London bar proprietors have one last chance to lobby against an all-out smoking bylaw, which will make it illegal to smoke in all city bars.

Bar owners had an opportunity to voice their opinions concerning the proposed smoking bylaw before City Hall on Monday, and have one more chance tonight.

"The mayor indicated almost a year ago that London will be going in a smoke-free direction," said David Winninger, a Ward 6 city councillor, who also sits on the Community and Protective Services Committee, which is in charge of the public hearings.

"This could be a disaster," said Norman Peel, co-owner of the Wits End Pub, and chief negotiator for the London division of The Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association.

Tony Downing, owner of The Honest Lawyer and Club DV8, is also concerned that the proposed smoking bylaw will have a devastating effect on bar revenues. "Forty per cent of our customers at DV8 are smokers. If the new law is passed, we think it will represent at least a 20 per cent, or higher, reduction in sales," he said.

Downing, who is speaking to City Council tonight, is hopeful they will consider an alternative to a complete ban on smoking in public places. He will be proposing that bars be allowed to provide smokers with a designated smoking room to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

"We want to give smokers a safe, well-ventilated place to go to have a cigarette without bothering a non-smoker or a staff member," he said.

Ion Inculet, director of the Applied Electrostatics Research Centre at Western, said Peel commissioned his department to study the option of implementing DSRs in bars last year.

The Centre looked at the option of DSRs in approximately a dozen bars throughout the city, however, have not reached any definite conclusions.

"We cannot make any conclusions until we conduct further experiments," Inculet said.

Graham Pollett, medical officer of health at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said he is skeptical about how effective the DSR alternative is in comparison to a complete ban on smoking in bars.

"[We] looked very seriously at the DSR option and concluded, from a health perspective, that it doesn't work," Pollett said.

"There's no acceptable level of second-hand smoke. DSRs leak and expose staff and patrons to second-hand smoke," he added.

If the proposed smoking bylaw is passed, bars found violating the new bylaw can expect fines of up to $5,000, Winninger explained.

The second hearing continues tonight at City Hall starting at 4 p.m..


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