Proposed smoking ban getting mixed response so far

More than a month after the Northwestern Health Unit started sending letters to every business in the Kenora-Rainy River districts requesting they ban smoking in enclosed public areas, Dr. Pete Sarsfield said the response has been “a good news/bad news joke.”
“Overall, it’s been positive. Well over 50 percent of the businesses have responded favorably,” re-marked the CEO and medical officer of the health unit.
“I get letters all the time saying ‘Keep doing this’ and ‘It’s about bloody time.’
“Most of the responses have either been from businesses that say they’ve always been smoke-free, or those that are planning to change and thank us for putting them in the right direction,” added Dr. Sarsfield.
“But then there’s a vocal minority, who make their presence known because they’re loud.”
Dr. Sarsfield noted the minority has been “incensed” by the order to go smoke-free because second-hand smoke has been declared a health hazard.
“We get letters saying ‘Drop dead.’ There’s been obscene phone calls—we even had the OPP in to listen to them.
“I get the finger when people see me on the way to work,” he remarked.
“And surprisingly, it’s not so much the bars that are opposing this. We get resistance from the businesses that don’t even serve the public at large.
“It’s like Pete’s Porn Shop saying ‘What the hell right have you got?’” Dr. Sarsfield noted.
Dr. Sarsfield issued an official notice in late February that second-hand smoke was a health hazard.
He also stipulated that municipalities served by the Northwest-ern Health Unit must respond to him by May 31 with their intentions as to what they will do about the hazard (i.e., establish bylaws banning smoking in enclosed public places).
On June 3, the health unit began sending out notices to all businesses in the two districts to go smoke-free, and that the onus will be on the owner of the business—and not the customer—if someone lights up.
Fines could range up to $2,500.
Dr. Sarsfield said he’s confident both districts will be smoke-free by the end of the year.
“The only way we won’t be is if we get tied up in the courts. There’s been no formal challenges yet,” he remarked.
“But some postcards from businesses have read, ‘See you in court, buddy.’ And my answer to that is ‘Absolutely.’ I think we’re going to win,” Dr. Sarsfield added.
Locally, the Red Dog Inn (with the exception of its bar) and Lee Garden have been the latest businesses to ban smoking, joining the ranks of the Robin’s Donuts, A&W, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.