Press Release

Doctors’ group calls
for smoke-free patios in all Canadian communities

Ottawa - May 25, 2010

A Canadian health group is calling for Canadian provincial and municipal governments to move quickly to ban smoking on restaurant patios and other hospitality venues. 

“Canadian researchers have assembled compelling evidence to demonstrate that laws to keep restaurant patios smoke free is necessary to protect the health of workers and the public,” said Neil Collishaw, Research Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada,  “yet 8 in 10 Canadians live in a community where such measures are not yet in place.” 

Four provinces (Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Alberta), the Yukon Territory and several cities in British Columbia provide protection from second-hand smoke on restaurant patios. Together with Saskatoon, Kingston, Thunder Bay and a few small towns in Ontario, these communities provide protection for 6.8 million Canadians. 24.7 million Canadians live in communities where no such protection exists.

Health Canada surveys show that the number of Canadians who reported being exposed to second-hand smoke fell by one-half between 2003 and 2008, from 4 million (20%) reporting past month exposure in 2003 to 2.2 million (10%) in 2008 . “Enormous progress has been made since Victoria, B.C. became Canada’s first jurisdiction to ban smoking in indoor venues in 1999,” explained Collishaw. “But the job of protecting workers and the public is not yet done.”

 “We now know that it is not enough to ban smoking inside restaurants, and that outdoor spaces where people gather must also be kept smoke-free,” said Collishaw. Recently published studies of air quality in Canadian settings have shown that workers on restaurant and bar patios are exposed to unacceptably high levels of cigarette smoke if smoking is allowed in these outdoor settings. 

The call for improved protection of restaurant workers from cigarette smoke comes four years after the death of Heather Crowe, an Ottawa waitress whose lung cancer was attributed to exposure to cigarette smoke at work and who successfully campaigned for changes to the law to protect hospitality and other workers from exposure to smoke. “Hospitality workers will continue to be victimized by laws which allow them to be exposed to higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals than are permitted by law for any other sector until outdoor workplaces are also smoke-free.”

Failure to protect young people from cigarette smoke in public places is of particular concern. “Children aged 12 to 19 are almost twice as likely to report being exposed to second hand smoke in public places as the general population,” he explained. “Because young people’s bodies are still developing, exposure to cigarette smoke may be particularly harmful in those years.  It is of particular concern for young women, as exposure to second-hand smoke early in life increases the risk of premenopausal breast cancer.

For more information: 

Neil Collishaw
613 233 4878; 613 850 5594
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