Saskatchewan - new anti-tobacco legislation expected soon..

October 28, 2009 - Saskatchewan Health Minister Don McMorris on Monday, October 26th said the government is looking at updating its no-smoking law with new anti-tobacco legislation expected to be introduced later this fall. McMorris said that details of the province's legislation still need to be worked out but Saskatchewan must take steps to deal with smoking rates that are among the highest in Canada.

Among the measures being contemplated are banning smoking on restaurant and bar patios and in vehicles carrying minors, setting new limits on how close people smoking can be to public buildings and curtailing tobacco sales in pharmacies.

McMorris: "Allowing pharmacies, especially the big box store pharmacies, to be selling tobacco products, it's a little counterintuitive to be passing out (smoking) cessation ... medicine, for example, as well as selling tobacco at the same time."

"All provinces are looking at the whole piece of trying to drive down the use of tobacco, denormalize it and more importantly, protect the people around a smoker from second-hand smoke," McMorris said.

Under the NDP (New Democratic Party), the provincial government instituted a province-wide smoking ban in enclosed public places at the start of 2005. Outdoor patios in bars and restaurants were exempt although some communities, such as Saskatoon, instituted local restrictions on smoking on decks. (Government of Saskatchewan: Tobacco Reduction - Smoke Free Public Places.)

A number of jurisdictions meanwhile, including Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Yukon have already implemented bans on smoking in vehicles carrying minors, with the cut-off point ranging from 16 to 19 years of age.

Ray Joubert, registrar of the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacists, said pharmacists would welcome a move to ban tobacco sales from pharmacies, noting that many already don't sell cigarettes. "Generally, it's a product that's not compatible with good health and pharmacies are places where one goes for good health, health care," said Joubert, adding that such legislation would level the playing field between small players and large retailers.

"Children in particular are especially susceptible to the poison in second-hand smoke, particularly in an enclosed, confined space like a car," said Donna Pasiechnik, tobacco control co-ordinator of the Canadian Cancer Society's Saskatchewan division.

As for restaurant and bar patios, Peter Van Loon, an educator with the Lung Association in Saskatchewan, said smoking should not be allowed in spaces where people are gathered together. But Tom Mullin, president of the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association, said the move will be a blow to rural hoteliers who were hard-hit by the smoking ban four years ago. Many businesses sunk a considerable investment into building patios precisely because of the smoking law, he said. However, the association won't be "duking it out" with the government this time because public opinion is likely on its side, said Mullin. Instead, the hospitality industry will press for a better deal with the province on liquor sales.

References: Province plans smoking ban print this article Hospitality association says the move will be a blow, but believes public opinion not on its side, REGINA JAMES WOOD
Saskatchewan News Network - Prince Albert Daily Herald, 10/27/2009; Patio smoking ban under attack, CBC News, 10/26/2009.

Related news briefs: Saskatchewan - smoking ban takes effect May 31, 2009..; Canada - more governments encouraged to ban sales of tobacco in pharmacies..; Tobacco displays are on their way out in an increasing number of countries..; Tax the hell out of all tobacco products until they disappear...

Image - Saskatchewan Health Minister Don McMorris..