Decision to appeal smoking ruling still weeks away

The Northwestern Health Unit is still weeks away from deciding whether to appeal the Health Services Review Appeal Board’s ruling last week that it does not have the power to ban smoking in all enclosed public places in the name of public health.
“We are probably going to have a decision by the second week of March,” Bill Limerick, director of environmental health for the health unit, said this morning.
He noted the health unit’s administration has been discussing appealing the decision with its lawyers—the end result of which will depend on its chances back in court and if it can foot the legal bills.
“We have to look at all sides of it.
It’s going to cost us money, of course,” Limerick said. “Whether the Ministry [of Health and Long- Term Care], community, and interest groups support us is an important factor.”^The health unit has 30 days after the decision to appeal it, which means it must be done by March 17.
As previously reported, Dr.
Sarsfield said he was “surprised” and “disappointed” by the appeal board’s decision—and questioned how the appeal board could allow “a proven health hazard to continue.”^The appeal board ruled Feb. 17 that the health unit did not have the authority to ban smoking in enclosed public places as Dr. Sarsfield had proposed to do under Section 13 of the Health Promotion and Protection Act.
Instead, it said the mandate of the medical officer of health—with respect to smoking, environmental tobacco smoke, and the general health concerns associated with them—is to promote smoke-free living through co-operation, education, and assistance in the enforcement of other provincial legislation such as the Tobacco Control Act.
The appeal board did note, however, that Ontario municipalities do have the right to enforce bylaws against smoking in enclosed public places.