Ontario to ban smoking on restaurant and bar patios, playgrounds, sports' fields

TORONTO – The Ontario government plans to amend legislation to ban smoking on all restaurant and bar patios as well as at playgrounds and sports fields.

Health Minister Deb Matthews says restaurant and bar owners know that the majority of people don’t want to be exposed to second-hand smoke on patios.

Matthews says most people are like her _ they enjoy sitting on a patio but don’t like being surrounded by smoke.

She says Ontario will also double the fine for stores that sell cigarettes to minors, and will follow Alberta’s lead and introduce legislation to ban all sales of candy-and-fruit-flavoured tobacco products.

The Ontario bill would extend the current prohibition on selling flavoured tobacco cigarillos and chewing tobacco to youth to a total sales ban, although there would be an exemption for menthol cigarettes which Matthews says are preferred by adults.

The Ontario government believes many youth start smoking with cigarillos that taste like chocolate or strawberry.

The proposed legislation would also ban other flavoured products such as twist sticks, dissolvable strips and lozenges if they contain tobacco, but not if they have only nicotine without tobacco.

The Canadian Cancer Society warns the lozenges, which look like candies and come in colourful packages, contain three times as much nicotine as a smoked cigarette.

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne announced last week his government would adopt a private member’s bill aimed at stopping the sale of flavoured tobacco to everyone, not just to minors.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation said companies were targeting youth with flavours like “grapes gone wild,” “appletini,” or “cherry vanilla,” and warned parents “have to be very concerned with the ability of the industry to adapt and change and work around legislation.”

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