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Ontario restaurants seek to level playing field


A decision to allow government-run casinos to build
smoking shelters should be extended to Ontario’s bars, pubs and
lounges, which have also seen a dramatic drop in business as result of
smoking bans, says the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
(CRFA).  

A decision to allow government-run casinos to build smoking shelters should be extended to Ontario’s bars, pubs and lounges, which have also seen a dramatic drop in business as result of smoking bans, says the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA).  

Real sales in Ontario’s bar, tavern and nightclub sector have dropped by eight per cent or $21 million in the first five months of the provincial smoking ban that was implemented on June 1 of this year, according to Statistics Canada. Since 2001, the bar, tavern and nightclub sector has suffered a 24 per cent or $182-million drop in real sales, and an 18 per cent drop in the number of establishments, due in large part to municipal smoking bans and the province-wide ban.

“Clearly the Ontario government has recognized the severe economic impact of its decision to ban smoking. It now needs to move immediately to allow smoking shelters in the rest of the hospitality industry, not just look after its own declining casino revenues,” said CRFA’s executive vice president, Michael Ferrabee.

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During hearings into the smoking legislation, CRFA advocated separately ventilated, unstaffed rooms in bars, pubs and lounges for employees and patrons who choose to smoke.  The government rejected this proposal in favour of a complete smoking ban, except on patios with no roof, overhang or even closely positioned umbrellas.

The regulations and guidance provided by the government since the province-wide ban came into effect on June 1, 2006, made it clear that smoking shelters would not be allowed in hospitality businesses.

“To suggest that casinos are not part of this same hospitality business is absurd,” said Ferrabee. “They offer food and beverage service and compete directly with bars and restaurants.”