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The University of Ottawa Heart Institute is one of 10 hospitals affected by the ban in Ottawa. Photo: CC, Trayana Heaton.

Violators of Smoke-Free Ontario Act can be fined up to $305

As of Jan. 1, the surrounding grounds of Ontario hospitals, which includes the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, have been made 100 per cent smoke free, under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA).

Per the SFOA, smoking in public has already decreased in Ontario due to previous regulations, making it more difficult to smoke cigarettes in places like parks, beaches, restaurants, and public school areas. While designated smoking areas have previously existed on both public and private property, including hospitals, this newly updated act bans smoking on any and all hospital grounds, making them effectively 100 per cent smoke free.

According to the Dec. 12 media release by the City of Ottawa, hospitals are taking extra precautions to ensure the law is upheld, by increasing counselling and quit-smoking services, such as nicotine replacement therapy for patients, staff, and visitors alike. Anyone caught smoking on hospital property will be charged a fine of $305.

As of Jan. 1, the following hospitals in Ottawa are smoke free: Elisabeth Bruyère, Montfort, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Queensway-Carleton, Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, St-Vincent, and the General, Riverside and Civic campuses of the Ottawa Hospital, along with the U of O Heart Institute.

In an interview with the CBC, Dr. Andrew Pipe, former chief of the division of prevention and rehabilitation at the Heart Institute, said that the care provided within medical facilities should be enough to help struggling smokers quit.

“I would argue that in 2018, to see patients standing outside hospital doors smoking is in some ways indicative of substandard care.”

In another article published by the CBC, patients and staff addressed their concerns at the difficulties these newer and stricter rules impose, with some patients being unable to walk the distance it takes to leave hospital grounds for a smoke break.

However, Pipe explained that this was effectively what the updated rules were aiming for, and that he hopes they will encourage cigarette smokers to seek treatment for their “profound addiction.”