The "birthday party" of Ontario being "smoke-free" for one year was held on May 29th in provincial government offices in downtown Toronto, where some people were still smoking outside. That they were smoking outside, however, confirmed that for the past year no one has been allowed to smoke in a closed environment anywhere in Ontario. That meant that the tavern downstairs no longer had a smoking and no-smoking section.
The responsibility of policing the Smoke-Free Ontario Act falls on the Minister of Health Promotion, the Honourable Jim Watson, who was the main speaker. His Parliamentary Assistant Dr. Shafiq Qaadri was the master of ceremonies. A guest speaker from the Cabinet was Minister of Revenue, the Honourable Michael Chan, who had only been elected within the last year in a by-election and already holds a senior ministry position.
Minister Watson mentioned that smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in Ontario. The Act is intended to protect people from second hand smoke and as a residual encourage people to stop smoking.
"I wanted to tell you that it has been a great year, full of accomplishments and encouraging news that our strategy is working,” said Watson.
However, “with 16,000 Ontarians dying each year because of tobacco use, we have a lot more work to do. We will be announcing an enhanced approach helping people in our communities who need it the most. It involves giving access to free nicotine replacement therapy and counselling for communities that have difficulty taking action to protect their own health due to barriers such as language, culture and poverty," added Watson.
A commemorative plaque was named for a driving force behind the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, Heather Crowe, who, though she didn't smoke, died of lung cancer. Crowe worked in the hospitality industry. After she was diagnosed, she became a tireless campaigner against smoking in the workplace.
The ministry notes that all information is available on their website www.healthyontario.com.
The whole discussion stopped just short of mentioning that smoking is harmful and very dangerous.
Smoke-free Ontario marks first anniversary