If Quebec goes ahead with legislation to ban smoking on outdoor patios, the head of a group of bar owners has threatened to take legal action.
The government tabled Bill 44 in May, which would put an end to smoking on patios a decade after Quebec first prohibited smoking inside eating and drinking establishments.
Forbidding smoking on patios would be "disastrous" and cause a drop of 10% in business, warned the president of the bar owners' organization.
"Right now, there's no problem, nobody is complaining," Peter Sergakis told as public hearings into the proposed legislation began in Quebec City. "If somebody doesn't like the smell of the smoke, he moves to (another) table."
Some smokers will even leave a patio and go out into the streets to partake, Sergakis added. "It's more risky staying in the corner where the trucks and the buses pass by," he noted. "The results are worse than being on a patio."
Instead Sergakis offered a solution of dividing a patio into 2 sections, with one for smokers and the other for non-smokers. The two sections can be separated by about one and a half meters so that the smoke could dissipate.
"They have no respect for the industry and we employ hundreds of thousands of people," Sergakis warned as he took a swing at the government. "For them, we are nobody."
In May 2006, Provincial legislation banned smoking inside restaurants, bars, indoor workplaces, public places, bowling alleys and bingo halls. This has caused a 25% drop in business and that the restaurant industry never recovered.
However what saved the bar owners a bit at the time was that the fact smokers could still go out to the patio and smoke, said Sebastien Senechal, the group's lawyer. But the proposed legislation would change that.
"We think we may see a decrease of 10 per cent (in business) -- maybe more, maybe a little less -- but it's going to be something like that," he said. Senechal argued there is no reason for the government to intervene.
"The government never showed us any studies showing that there is a potential risk for the health of the non-smoker in this kind of environment," he said. "We think they are not allowed to intervene and impose the law in this kind of circumstance."
Ontario banned smoking on all restaurant and bar patios as well as playgrounds and publicly owned sports events as of January 2015.