It’s been almost five months since the Quebec government’s expanded smoking ban kicked in, and numbers are now in detailing how many bars and restaurants copped fines as a punishment for smokers lighting up on terrasses or other outdoor areas.
Montreal radio station CJAD 800 reports that bars or restaurants, not individual smokers, received most of the tickets — up to mid-September, 90 fines were given to bars and restaurants for apparently allowing people to smoke on terrasses, and a small handful more were given out to venues that didn’t have enough signage to tell patrons about the smoking bans. Only 33 smokers received tickets for puffing tobacco on a patio. But a figurative tonne of warnings without fines — 1,450 to be precise — were handed out in the same period, indicating that fines only went out to the worst offenders.
Back before the ban kicked in, various bar and restaurant owners, including the ever-outspoken Peter Sergakis fretted that the ban would cost them money by keeping customers away, and even threatened to sue. Quebec was hardly trying something new here — smoking is already banned on patios in Alberta and Ontario, among other provinces.
Nobody has really come forward with numbers to prove that customers avoided eating or drinking out because of smoking bans, but given that fines to venues could be anywhere from $500 to $12,500, it’s fair to say that the ban has been costly to a small handful of restaurants or bars.
Quebec’s Ministry of Health haven’t offered details about how inspectors decide whether to fine venues or customers when they catch smokers on terrasses. For example, if one customer discreetly lights up and servers don’t notice, it might not be as reasonable to slap a bar or restaurant with a big fine as compared to a situation where a bar lets numerous patrons smoke illegally.
- Some Smokers Still Not Butting Out on Terrasses [CJAD 800]
- Bar owner says Quebec bill banning terrasse smoking will hurt business [CTV Montreal]