Sunday, July 17, 2005

Smoking Fight Heats Up

Bar owners in two Prairie provinces want smoking bans deemed unconstitutional

Courts in Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be asked this week to decide whether provincial smoking laws are a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bar owners in the two provinces have launched separate battles to overturn the recently enacted laws, which they say have driven away their customers.

"I know guys who have lost half their business," said Gary Desrosiers, a bar owner in Brunkild, Man., who has been the most vocal critic of the smoking ban.

"There are probably 200 to 300 jobs that have been lost because of this law."

Desrosiers and other Manitoba proprietors have helped raise $30,000 for Robert Jenkinson, a Treherne bar owner who will stand trial Monday on charges of allowing smoking in his establishment.

Jenkinson's lawyer, Art Stacey, will argue the provincial smoking ban violates the charter because it does not apply to native reserves.

"Section 15, which is the equality right under the charter, . . . says that essentially all people are entitled to be treated equally under the law without discrimination," said Stacey.

The province has said it does not have jurisdiction to enforce the law on reserves, some of which have recently opened smoker-friendly gambling halls to attract more customers.

Stacey disagrees, pointing out that the province already enforces many laws on reserves, including speed limits under the Highway Traffic Act. - More at CP

I was in a small town bar just last week where people were openly smoking and using drink cans for ashtrays. I guess the ashtrays were camouflage in case the anti smoking police came in. I can only guess that this is the case in many small town hotels in an effort to stay open. I am not a smoker and don't like to sit in a smoked filled bar, but it isn't the government's job to decide that for us. Bars and restaraunts should decide for themselves if they will allow smoking or not. Customers will come or stay away on their own. Let the market decide, not the politicians. - KS

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