Councillors vote 34-2 to ban practice
Hookah smoking will be banned in licensed establishments – and also those that require licenses but might not have them – as of April 1, 2016, Toronto City Council has decided.
Councillors voted 34-2 to support a motion by Board of Health Chair and St. Paul’s Councillor Joe Mihevic, to heed the advice of the city’s Medical Officer of Health and simply make the practise of publicly smoking the piles illegal.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown told council the practise of smoking hookah in establishments around the city often catering to Middle Eastern and North African clients is analogous to smoking cigarettes when it comes to health impacts.
The report from the Board of Health said smoking the herbal mixtures and molasses creates a similar risk of cancer and respiratory ailments over time to smoking tobacco. And the second-hand smoke is similarly as harmful to those working in establishments offering the communal hookah water pipes.
The ban comes after the city’s Licensing Committee heard it will harm businesses who currently offer the pipes.
But councillors, even those skeptical of the need for a ban, had little sympathy for the economic argument.
“If your business is dependent on people smoking from these pipes it’s not much of a business,” said Ward 4 Councillor John Campbell.
Mayor John Tory noted bar and restaurant owners who worried about a smoking ban more than a decade ago were able to weather the changes.
“I understand the sensitivities of businesses to having the rules changed,” Tory said. “But people have time to make adjustments to their business. The principle at play is we decided quite some time ago we weren’t going to have smoking in restaurants, smoking in bars and smoking in offices, and this is smoking. Really the debate about what people are smoking is academic. Anything you burn and inhale is not going to be good for your health.”
Source Inside Toronto
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