PUBCO hopes to spread across province

Smoking Ban


PUBCO, the pub and bar owners' coalition, is hoping to expand its membership throughout Ontario in an effort to increase its clout in the fight against smoking bans.

"If we get province-wide representation, we can bring the issue back to Queen's Park where it belongs," said PUBCO general manager Barry McKay.

"Then we can get into the chaotic situation we have in Ontario and create a level playing field. We'll have a province-wide standard that people can live with," he said.

McKay said PUBCO's experience with Ottawa's anti-smoking bylaw is stirring interest in other areas facing similar legislation.

"A lot of people are worried about potential smoking bans," McKay said.

"PUBCO is the best means they have available.

"We're warning municipalities not to go down the line Ottawa went down," he said. "It's unfortunate that Ottawa was used as the guinea pig but at least we can offer some support to the rest of the province."

PUBCO's role, according to McKay, will be to meet with municipal representatives and reiterate what he described as the devastating impact the bylaw has had on the hospitality industry.

Rob Graham, owner of the Village Pump in Belleville, said McKay was key in delaying implementation of a proposed 100% smoking ban and fashioning a compromise.

"We need representation for the small, individual bar and pub industry," Graham said.

"Ottawa's experience has shown that the bylaw has been devastating to the industry."

McKay hopes that PUBCO membership, currently at about 200, could rise by several hundred if they are successful in gaining new members elsewhere.


Serving the Interests of Liquor Licensees in the Province of Ontario

MEDIA RELEASE May 21, 2002


The Pub and Bar Coalition (PUBCO), announced today its intention to become directly involved in the increasing controversy surrounding the development of smoking by-laws in municipalities throughout Ontario.

"We are especially interested in the Toronto area", stated General Manager Barry McKay from his office in Ottawa. "The current by-law, although drafted with good intentions in an attempt to reach a compromise, is causing major operational problems. However, the alternative of 100% smoking bans as is being proposed in some municipalities is certainly not the answer. Experience in Ottawa has proven that 100% smoking bans are the kiss of death for many in the bar and pub industry"

The Ottawa by-law prohibits smoking in all bars, pubs, pool halls and restaurants, and PUBCO is already embroiled in the courts with its challenge to the legality of such by-law scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto on May 28.

"Figures supplies by Ontario Brewers show that, since the ban was instituted last August, Ottawa licensee beer sales have dropped over 8% when compared to the rest of the province. What is even worse " stated McKay " is that matters are deteriorating, with sales for March of this year having plummeted 21% compared to sales in March 2001. Rather than admit that they made a terrible mistake, Ottawa Council is sticking its head in the sand while a once vibrant sector of the Ottawa hospitality industry is systematically destroyed. We badly need some leadership to resolve the situation but instead we are faced with a conspiracy of silence. The rest of Ontario must heed the lessons to be learnt from the Ottawa experience - 100% smoking bans cause a meltdown in the pub and bar industry."

When asked what action PUBCO was contemplating in the Toronto area, McKay replied that the preferred option for PUBCO was always negotiation, and he pointed to the Belleville -Quinte region where local municipalities had recently agreed to negotiate a compromise solution with owners, rather than attempting to ram through a 100% ban. Similar provincial compromises have been developed in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan with local solutions also having been reached in Sarnia, Windsor and Niagara on the Lake. "It is time that the province of Ontario stopped sitting in the sidelines and pocketing substantial tobacco taxes while allowing municipalities to do their dirty work. This hands off policy has lead to chaos throughout the province" stated McKay.

Prominent counsel Maurice Manning Q.C. has already been retained to defend some tickets issued for alleged violations of smoking by-laws in the York region," said McKay. "We are currently recruiting new PUBCO members across the province, and are establishing a legal war chest in order to be able to take whatever legal action is considered appropriate. Certainly, if a satisfactory solution to the Toronto by-law cannot be achieved through negotiation, then a legal challenge is a distinct possibility" stated McKay.

For further information contact:

Barry McKay
General Manager

Dan Taite
Membership Coordinator


Like other jurisdictions in Ontario, your municipality may be considering the introduction of a smoking by-law.

The Pub and Bar Coalition of Ontario (PUBCO) has almost a year's experience under the 100% smoking ban imposed on our industry by the Ottawa City council in August 2001. It has not been a pleasant experience. Many establishments have been forced to close, workers have been laid off and sales are down dramatically (and way up in neighbouring municipalities!).

Despite this, Health Departments across the province are still attempting to convince municipalities to adopt similar bans. The arguments and tactics they are using are exactly the same as those that were used in Ottawa over a year ago. Their arguments were flawed then and they remain flawed. The difference now is that we have available solid facts to dispute them.

PUBCO has already made the case for compromise to other municipalities and in all cases they opted for alternatives to a 100% ban.

100% smoking bans are intrusive, divisive to a community, damaging to the local economy, extremely expensive to implement, and totally unnecessary. There are acceptable alternatives available such as advanced ventilation systems, and increasingly this is being realized, both at the provincial and municipal levels. The provinces of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec have opted for compromises. Unfortunately our own provincial government has yet to show any interest in unifying regulations and, instead, we have a patchwork of by-laws that penalize some municipalities and reward their neighbours.
Today, the City of Ottawa is threatening the few remaining blue-collar bars that are non-compliant with $25.000 fines and possible jail sentences. These are small entrepreneurs whose only crime is in trying to protect themselves and their families from financial ruin and their workers from losing their jobs. It is a tragic case of bureaucracy running out of control and, hopefully, a situation you would not wish to emulate.

Rather than admit its mistake, Ottawa is brutally crushing all opposition and desperately wants others to adopt similar restrictive by-laws to avoid being perceived as an isolated island of intolerance. Please do not go down this road as experience proves that it leads to disaster.

PUBCO believes that you owe it to your hospitality segment to hear the real story. Please understand that PUBCO is not a pro-smoking group; we are pro small business. Smoking reduction efforts, such as education programs and higher taxes, work and are much less draconian than the largely symbolic 100% bans in bars and restaurants.

Before you make a decision, PUBCO would request an opportunity to speak to you, your voters and your council - at any forum of your choosing - to fully describe the misery that the Ottawa by-law has wrought on hundreds of persons, and to discuss alternative measures that the vast majority of your voters can live with.

Contact us at any time, through this website or by calling:

Yours Sincerely

Barry McKay
General Manager