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Places to smoke going way of the dinosaurs?
The medical officer of health for the newly amalgamated City of Ottawa anticipates that the smoke will have cleared from Canada's public places by 2006. "In 5 years it will all be done," Dr. Robert Cushman told CMAJ. "People are demanding clean air and are actively involved in making sure they get it, and this marks a major change in attitude."
Ottawa has hopped aboard the bandwagon with a vengeance thanks to a stringent antismoking bylaw that was passed unanimously by city council Apr. 25; it takes effect in August. Similar rules took effect in Victoria in 1999 and in Waterloo, Ont., in 2000.
In Victoria, 77% of all residents including half of all smokers now support the move to smoke-free public places, an Angus Reid survey indicates. When the bylaw was enacted there, the city's biggest concern was that it might affect tourism, Victoria's main industry. However, 2000 proved a banner year, with tourism revenues reaching $1.1 billion and bar sales remaining stable. "There's either no impact or a positive impact when these bans take effect," says Dr. Richard Stanwick, Victoria's medical officer of health.
Bars, bingo halls and bowling alleys have traditionally opposed the bylaws. However, Cushman says the people operating these businesses may be pleasantly surprised by the results. "Some people don't go because they don't want to be exposed [to smoke]. We want merchants to know there's a big business they aren't tapping into." Barbara Sibbald, CMAJ