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News Release

Smoke is long gone, leaving plenty of customers and happy fares

May 19, 2016
NORTH SIMCOE – Nicole Lamers and husband Dan don’t allow anyone to smoke in their home.
NORTH SIMCOE – Nicole Lamers and husband Dan don’t allow anyone to smoke in their home. They never have. Yet for the better part of a decade, the owners of Cellarman’s Ale House in Midland spent every day working in their smoke-filled pub, cooking, serving meals and pulling beers.

It was the cost of doing business in the days before the Smoke-Free Ontario Act banned smoking inside public and work places, says Nicole.

But, she says, the air began to clear in 2002 when the Town of Midland joined a number of municipalities in the region passing local bylaws to limit exposure to secondhand smoke. Under the Midland bylaw, Cellarman’s became a smoke-free restaurant by day, and a bar at night where smoking was allowed. 

“It was scary when the no-smoking law was coming in,” says Nicole. “We weren’t against going smoke-free, but we were being forced to do this and that created a lot of uncertainty. Nobody wants to lose business. It was definitely a concern. 

“We lost a second income from the cigar bar upstairs and we lost some customers who went to other local establishments that had patios where they could still smoke, eat and drink.”

Lamers said it took about a year for the King Street business to fully rebound but looking back, there have been many positives to being smoke-free.

“It’s a cleaner environment for everybody. There’s no grunge on the walls, stench on your clothes, no cleaning ashtrays. There are more people coming out to eat and socialize, and the customers who do smoke have easily adjusted that if they want a cigarette, it’s outside.”

Tony DeGuglielmo, owner of Central Taxi serving the North Simcoe area, agrees going smoke-free has been a good move for all involved.

“As a cab company owner, my biggest challenge was changing the culture. Drivers would smoke with their head sticking out the window while driving back then. They’d smoke in the cars, sometimes with passengers smoking right beside them. The cab was smoky. It would put a film on the windows, the upholstery, the seats.

“I was a smoker at the time, but I didn’t like that. We needed to change the culture and the no-smoking law helped us do it.”

While he admits there was resistance from drivers and passengers who smoked, it also made a lot of customers happy.

The feedback from them is great because they love getting into a smoke-free car. They don’t want to smell cigarettes smoke when they are in the cars. They don’t want to ride in it.

“Now when a driver sneaks a cigarette I find out. Customers phone me right away.”

DeGuglielmo sends his drivers a reminder every six months about no smoking in the workplace.

“My rule is you have to be 10 feet from the building and car door. But the radio and calls are what they live on so they will roll down the window and stand close enough to the car to listen.”

He credits the Smoke-Free Ontario Act with helping to reduce smoking rates.

“We have had probably a dozen employees who have quit smoking since the law came in, including three people who work inside. For drivers who wanted to quit, it helped. From what I see of people smoking outside, I think it has helped curb smoking in general and, hopefully, the young kids, too.”

Simcoe Muskoka’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner says the Smoke-Free Ontario strategy and the Smoke-Free Ontario Act can be credited with changing the social norm around tobacco use.

“People are no longer willing to be exposed to secondhand smoke. They don’t want their kids breathing it or seeing people around them smoke indoors or out at the playgrounds or sports fields.”

But Dr. Gardner says there is still a lot of work to be done to curb tobacco product use.

“Unhealthy behaviours, of which smoking is at the top of the list, cause thousands of avoidable deaths each year and result in a huge burden on our healthcare system,” Dr. Gardner says. “By helping people to successfully quit, and by putting supports in place to encourage tobacco-free living, we are saving lives and millions of dollars in healthcare costs each year.”

“Tobacco products are killing one of every two long-term users. It’s a slow-moving epidemic. We need to focus on what more we can do. How will we help people break their addiction to nicotine and ensure our kids grow up choosing to be tobacco free?”

“This is where we must continue to devote our energies, knowing we can save lives and reduce the unnecessary burden on the healthcare system.”

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