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At today’s meeting, City Council expanded the City’s smoke-free regulations, which are part of a long-term strategy designed to protect children and non-smokers from second-hand smoke, while reducing smoking rates.

The City’s smoke-free regulations are being broadened to include municipal properties, including parks and beaches, and all bar and restaurant patios. An awareness and warning phase will begin April 2, 2012, and enforcement will begin July 2, 2012.

“These steps will help protect residents, families and children from second-hand smoke while at the same time make Ottawa a leader in smoke-free spaces,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Smoking-related illnesses continue to strain our health care system and it is important that we renew our efforts to reduce smoking rates.”

“The renewed regulations are part of a larger strategy adopted by the Board of Health that will make Ottawa a healthier city for all,” said Councillor Diane Holmes, Chair of the Board of Health. “I am proud that residents will soon enjoy Ottawa’s first smoke-free patio, park and beach season this summer.”

“Ottawa joins a growing number of municipalities that have made such places smoke-free,” said Councillor Mark Taylor, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee. “There has been a high rate of voluntary compliance in other jurisdictions, and we’re confident that Ottawa will be the same.”

In September 2011, Council requested the Board of Health review and report on the public health value of updating the City’s smoke-free regulations. Ottawa Public Health conducted a comprehensive three-month public consultation that involved residents and businesses. Consultations and public opinion research indicate that Ottawa residents strongly support creating more smoke-free spaces.

The updated regulations are a part of Ottawa Public Health’s renewed strategy for a smoke-free Ottawa. Earlier this month, the Board of Health approved the strategy which includes increased programming for people who want to quit smoking and a public awareness and community engagement strategy. The Board of Health will also advocate to the provincial and federal governments to strengthen current legislation that exists for regulating water-pipes.

A public awareness campaign will be launched in the coming weeks to ensure residents, businesses, community partners and City employees have a clear understanding of the new regulations.

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