Smoking ban proposal is intrusive and unenforceable

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Toronto Public Health supports a proposal that would ban smoking from restaurant patios, sports fields, parks, hospital grounds, beaches and entrances to public buildings. Waterloo is also considering these bans. This comprehensive strategy would build upon the current ban on smoking in cars with small children, and pretty much anywhere indoors.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has already spoken out against the proposal, which he says would result in far too much government interference in people’s lives and, beyond that, would be a nightmare to enforce.  While there is merit to the city’s attempts to keep people healthy and protect non-smokers from second- hand smoke, government policy should have its limits.

Ford is right – it would be extremely difficult and expensive to enforce. But it also brings into question individual vs. collective rights and how far government influence should extend.

The current ban makes sense, but the new proposal is so far-reaching that it would eliminate many popular places for smokers to light up.  People should be able to figure this sort of problem out on their own. If someone is walking with a child on the beach or sitting with their family on a patio, smokers should take notice. And if smokers are enjoying themselves on a patio, it might not be the best place for a kids’ soccer team.

Common courtesy should be enough. Despite the best intentions of this new proposal, banning smokers from more places will just mean they will find a new place to gather.
Since it will have no impact on reducing smoking, and likely no impact at reducing second-hand smoke intake, passing the bill would be a waste of effort and money that should be spent elsewhere.

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