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Doctors Welcome Proposed Changes to Canada's Criminal Law

Revamped Criminal Code Could Protect Workers and Public from Second Hand Smoke.

 (Ottawa) – June 13, 2003.  

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada welcomed a government proposal to amend the Criminal Code of Canada and urged parliament to pass Bill C-45 quickly.

Bill C-45, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal liability of organizations) proposes to add the following new obligation to the Criminal Code:

"Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task."

"The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code will require all employers to take reasonable measures to protect employee and public safety," explained Dr. Atul Kapur, president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "This should effectively ban smoking in all public and work-places in Canada."

“Every year, hundreds of Canadians are killed as a result of exposure to cigarette smoke in the workplace and public places," explained Dr. Atul Kapur.  "Thousands more experience serious health effects caused by second hand smoke."  These illnesses can be avoided if employers take the reasonable measures of banning smoking on their premises.

"Unlike labour law, this law will apply equally across Canada, giving all workers and all Canadians a new mechanism to ensure the protection of their health and safety," said Dr. Kapur. Protection from Second-hand smoke has often been viewed as a provincial matter, and a number of provinces (including Prince Edward Island and British Columbia) have initiated labour reforms to protect workers from smoke.  Other provinces (such as Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta) have made no moves to improve worker protection. No province yet provides 100% protection to all workers.

Pressure to reform labour laws to explicitly protect workers from smoke was renewed after an Ottawa waitress, Heather Crowe,  was awarded workplace compensation for lung cancer caused by exposure to cigarette smoke in restaurants.  Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada has been working with Heather Crowe to urge pan-Canadian improvements to reduce smoke exposure.


 For information:   Cynthia Callard, Executive Director. 

613 233 4878