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Ontario Smoking Ban Still Being Contested by Pro-Smoking Lobbyists

After almost two months of the implementation of the smoking ban in Ontario, Pro-smoking lobbyists that have contested the ban that will cover the entire province, said that what they have feared that will happen then, especially in the business industry of Ontario, is now happening and is having a negative impact on the financial health of the businesses.

Last May, Mychoice.ca, a smokers rights organization which is supported by the tobacco industry of Canada joined forces with establishment owners, veterans, charities and others who are concerned about the inpact of the Smoke-Free Ontario act in the whole province, especially the business industry.

The group predicted that the law, that took effect last May 31, 2006 and states that no one may smoke in public places and work places, especially enclosed ones, would be the end for bars, bingo halls and casino establishments which been considered as a hang-out for smokers who wish to pass time but at the same time want to enjoy themselves.

Jim Watson, the Health Promotion Minister, begs to disagree saying that only 82 charges of violating the smoking ban after it took effect. A sure sign that the public has adapted well to the new changes.

Nancy Daigneault, Mychoice.ca president counters that since the ban has been enforced, her group's memberhip has risen, signaling that most people do not agree on what is happening in their province. People are also starting to realize how intrusive it is on the private life of the person.

Club owners across Ontario are already reeling from the effects of the ban, according to Randy Hughes, who is the spokesman for the Pub and Bar Coalition of Canada. The problem will take a turn for the worse when cold weather sets in Onatrio and smokers will less likely endure the cold outside just so they could smoke their cigarettes.

But two months is still to early to tell, according to Mr. Hughes to really see the effect of the ban. They have no doubt that the industry would survive but right the outlook is rather bleak as the industry is slowly losing good people due to the smoking ban.

Like Casino Windsor, who already laid off 329 employees even without an existing smoking bylaw, which have only been implemented in Windsor last May 31. The Casinolost a lot of revenue due to the ban. A bingo hall also recently closed down, affecting many local charities who become suddenly homeless.

The executive director of the Windsor Essex Nonprofit Support Network, Ken Coulter pleaded with the government last May to set aside a emergency fund that would help charities that would be affected by the ban and closure of the bingo halls that they used to hold their operations.But Mr. Coulter's appeal failed to persuade the officials.

The Health Minister, Jim Watson said that he is concerned and worried for the local charities in Windsor but he remains hopeful that the bingo establishments can recover like in other regions where the smoking by-laws predated the regional ban.

Although he recognizes the importance of the charity bingo halls especially to the community, he is less concerned with the plight of the pub and bar owners. He thinks that people are beginning to understand the bad effects of smoking and the health of an individual is more important than any amount of money.

The Mychoice.ca group fears that the Health Minister and the anti-smoking coalition will soon take steps to further extend the ban to cars, homes and even outdoor parks. Nancy Daigneault said that they have to keep an eye on these groups.

Michael Perley,director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, an Health activist and a ardent supporter of the smoking ban commented that such groups like Mychoice.ca are just misinformed because as far as he knows, there is no calls or moves that will extend the smoking ban on private homes and the outdoor parks.

But regulations that will strict smoking in cars, especially when children are present in the vicinity would be a welcomed move it would no do good for young children to be exposed to second hand smoke at such a young age.

Mr. Jim Watson also said that he is now concentrating in implementing the second part of the ban which would obligate groceries and convenience stores to hide their tobacco products out of sight, a proposal that many business owners opposed.

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