Ten years ago not everyone was happy that they had to butt out when they dined out. With 72 health inspectors and a team of tobacco control officers on the look out for violators Toronto's dining experience changed.
It was a Friday. In Toronto, Peel and York diners were going out to eat in smoke free environments. It seemed surreal. Today it's the norm.
The Smoking Bylaws started October 8, 1999 when workplace smoking was banned. Then came the banning of smoking in restaurants, dinner theatres and bowling centres on June 1, 2001. The last phase of the bylaws was three years later when all bars, billiard halls, bingo halls, casinos and the racetrack had to become smoke-free.
City Councilor Joe Mihevc stated on Facebook, "Today is the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the bylaw ending smoking in restaurants. It is probably the most significant municipal bylaw change in many decades, one that has changed the restaurant/bar experience, and saved thousands of lives. The Toronto bylaw caught hold across the province and Canada soon after. The fight though to get it passed was an intense one that I will never forget."
How does Toronto's residents feel about the bylaw ten years later? I asked a few people their thoughts on the bylaw.
University student Samantha Postulart said, "I think its one of the only bylaws that I've actually taken notice of in my lifetime because it made such a tangible, positive impact. There is no reason that servers and other patrons should be forced to be exposed to the deadly chemicals in cigarettes. As someone who has worked in hospitality for many years I cannot imagine life without the the protection of this bylaw."
Bryen Dunn said, "I'm only a casual smoker, very casual, but I think it's much better not going home smelling of smoke. saves not only your lungs, but laundry detergent and water as well!" He reflected on ten years ago, "I remember the first time through when bars were not enforcing the law, and suggested you don't smoke. They had the smoking and non-smoking side by side. Some would have ashtrays if you asked. Others actually told me to just butt it on the floor."
Donna Hartling MacDonald said, "I love the bylaws.I do not think smoking should be in public restaurants or establishments. I do not want to be breathing in 2nd hand smoke, I do not smoke, never have and therefore I should not have to deal with other peoples smoke. However I recently heard that there are plans to ban smoking in public outdoor parks. That is going a bit to far."