New smoke-free rules affect bass tournament

By Beth Caldwell
Fort Frances Times

The atmosphere under the big tent at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship later this month will have a different air about it as organizers prepare to comply with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
The act, which went into effect across the province May 31, prohibits smoking in enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places in Ontario in order to protect workers and the public from the hazards of second-hand smoke.
“Primarily, there will be no smoking under the tent, there will be no smoking under the canopy of the beer tent, [and] there will be no smoking in the area between the big tent and the beer tent,” FFCBC chair Jim Cumming noted.
He added clear indications of the new no-smoking rules, as they apply to the bass tournament, were provided by local tobacco strategy co-ordinator Jennifer McKibbon, who is with the Northwestern Health Unit office in Kenora.
“There also will be no smoking in the food court preparation area and no smoking where people will be eating,” he continued. “[And] it probably means we will have to extend the [ban] from the bathrooms to the whole east end of the site.”
FFCBC organizers and volunteers who work the event also will be responsible for asking smokers who light up within the banned areas to butt out.
“It makes a whole lot more sense to make the whole area of the tent smoke-free because then the [organizers’] requirements for compliance means they don’t have to keep telling people to put their cigarettes out as they go around,” McKibbon said during a recent phone interview.
“It’s a whole lot easier for the whole food/tent area to be smoke-free and then create an area away from there where smokers can go,” she reasoned.
Enforcement officers with the health unit also will frequent the FFCBC site to check for compliance with the Smoke-Free Act.
Any individual convicted of an offence under the section of the act for the protection of employees could be subject to a maximum fine of $4,000.
“[The health unit] had a funding enhancement from the Ministry of Health and a mandate to enforce this act, so we have new enforcement officers that we didn’t have before,” noted McKibbon.
“There’s lots of festival all over Northwestern Ontario this summer and the [FFCBC] is one of the places we’ll be looking [for non-compliance].
“It is our intention, where at all possible, to be at these [events].”
Cumming reiterated a smoking area would be designated at the bass tournament—and was confident smokers would respect the new requirements of the act.
“I think people will co-operate fully with that,” he concluded.