Hampstead's anti-smoking bylaw draws opposition from unlikely source

The head of Quebec's Non-Smokers Rights Association says proposed new rules which would effectively ban smoking just about everywhere out of doors in the town of Hampstead go too far, even for him.

The Association's François Damphousse says for years, his group has lobbied to get smokers to take their habit outside, and away from enclosed spaces such as outdoor patios. Damphousse worries the draft bylaw, which was approved unanimously by the town's council on Monday and will go to a final vote at its next meeting next month, would effectively leave smokers with much fewer options.

"Where are people going to go and smoke? They're going to smoke indoors. And that's creating a problem, in my opinion." Damphousse says.

Damphousse isn't necessarily going to bat for the rights of smokers here, but he does acknowledge smokers are addicts, and will take their habit wherever they can.

He also suggests trying to make a public health argument for this bylaw might be difficult, since the great outdoors is not an enclosed space.

"For example, if we're on a patio, or on a terrasse, we ban smoking there because of close proximity," Damphousse says. "But if somebody is smoking 50 metres from me, it's not going to affect me in terms of public health."

Damphousse is concerned that if the bylaw goes ahead as is, it might inspire similar bylaws in other, larger, cities and towns.