Some members of the public in Weyburn have said they would rather that smoking was banned altogether at restaurants, and that the loophole allowing smoking on patio decks be closed.
The provincial legislation on smoking bans it from nearly every public facility, including bars, lounges and restaurants, with the sole exception of patio decks. For this, the province has left it up to local municipalities to decide whether to impose a smoking ban or not, while cracking down hard on smokers on every other front, including not allowing smoking in a vehicle with a minor, and not allowing smoking near doorways.
Currently, two restaurants in Weyburn allow smoking on their patio, while a third does not allow it.
At Boston Pizza, smoking is only allowed on the patio off the lounge but not on the patio on the restaurant side, while smoking allowed on Pump Jack’s patio.
There is an outdoor area for eating at Dairy Queen, but the entire property is non-smoking, including the patio.
Saskatchewan’s Health minister and Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan has said this loophole was the “balance” reached with smokers, since they are still engaged in a legal activity as adults. In a recent interview, he ruled out any further actions by the province to ban smoking on patio decks, as he said further consultation would be required, but consultation would not be undertaken just for this one issue.
A city resident who fought long to have smoking banned from inside restaurants, Brenda Braun, tries to avoid eating on patios where smoking is permitted, but would just as soon see the smoking ban made complete for restaurants.
“I would certainly prefer not to eat on patios where there’s smoking; I think we could do without it. I’m pretty strong on not sitting in that stuff,” said Braun.
“I’ve been against smoking in public for years; I don’t know if we’re going to win this one or not,” she added.
Noting that non-smokers are in the majority — suggesting stats say 70 per cent or more are non-smokers — Braun suggested that if a restaurant did ban it that non-smokers would then feel welcome to go back to it.
She recalled that during the fight to get smoking banned, there were restaurant owners who were fearful of losing business as a result, and noted this has proved to be a false fear.
“They thought it would be a big hardship for them and they would lose so much business; it proved not to be true. People have already done this, because eventually people are going to want to go back to going out. Eventually you have to make the decision; you go and you put up with it,” she said. “I certainly wouldn’t want my kids working on those patios.”
Braun said knowing what smoking (including second-hand smoke) does to one’s body, “they should put an end to it before people are rooted in their belief that it would be bad to ban smoking,” she said.
Braun also noted that the province has indicated the desire to sue tobacco companies for the cost of health care treatment of people harmed by smoking; since this is the case, why is province then “aiding and abetting” the harm of residents by allowing this loophole?, she asked.
“The almighty dollar seems to carry a lot of clout; the government should be done with it,” said Braun, adding she understands why there’s resistance to making the ban on smoking even tougher. “It’s tough, but old habits die hard. Nobody wants to give up what they’ve always had.”
Long-time city resident April Sampson said she and husband Stan are non-smokers, and also try to avoid going to patios where there is smoking.
While the smoking doesn’t bother Stan when they’re outside, April said she prefers to eat either inside or where there are no smokers allowed.
Asked if the smoking ban should be made complete, April said she didn’t know if she would go that far.
“We’d prefer to go somewhere there isn’t any smoking. I’d love to see young people not pick it up; why are they still smoking? They’ve been taught since they were little not to smoke,” said the long-time former educator.
A former city councillor, Ray Hamm, added his voice to the view that smoking should be banned at all restaurants.
“I would be in favour of banning smoking, even if it’s outdoors. The smoke gets into the face of patrons when they’re trying to eat,” said Ray.
He noted he and wife Jeanette will not eat on a patio where there are smokers, as anytime they’ve gone to a patio where it’s allowed, there are often smokers at adjoining tables.
“It’s still an issue with us,” said Ray.