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Huffing and puffing

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Now bar and restaurant owners say they need more time to build the infrastructure needed to be in compliance with the new regulations. According to the WCB study it will cost between $3,000 and $16,000 for each business to comply with the new regulations, with an average cost of about $10,000. About half of that total is the cost of installing a separate ventilation system for the smoking room.

"It’s not easy, and it isn’t cheap" says Campbell. "It’s getting all the permits and drawings and all the regulatory bodies in sync and in step at the same time." Construction work is required in many cases, which means architectural drawings and approval from fire and safety inspectors.

Campbell doesn’t know how long bars and restaurants will need to become compliant. "We’ve asked the government to consider a delay, and we’ll have to see what they come back with."

Campbell acknowledged that coalition members have been in discussions with their MLAs, and that the current word on the street is that Liberal Labour Minister Graham Bruce is expected to announce a delay soon.

The coalition has also said they will ask the new Liberal government to review the WCB regulations, and take a second look at the ventilation option.

Groups that support the new smoking regulations said that bars and restaurants have been given enough time to bring their establishments up to speed, and are angered that the hospitality coalition is seeking an extension.

The Clean Air Coalition of B.C. is one of those groups, and responded by suggesting that the hospitality organizations are trying to stall the process and dodge the regulations.

In an interview with MyBC.com, Clean Air Coalition spokesperson Jack Boomer said bars and restaurants have had a year and a half to get used to the idea. "Workers in bars, pubs and restaurants – the men and women who work in these industries – should receive the same protection as all other workers," he said.

Heather Mackenzie, a former hospitality worker "who has suffered disease, pain and surgery from secondhand smoke" is circulating a letter slamming the hospitality industry.

"Hospitality workers deserve equal treatment and the same protection which all other workers receive," wrote Mackenize. "Since April 1998 a smoking ban has been in effect in every other B.C. workplace. The pubs have already had their ‘delay’ to get on with it and build a smoking room.

"This talk of a ‘ventilation solution’ is an absolute joke. Ventilation can’t possibly solve the problem for one simple reason… Smoke must go from the end of the burning cigarette and the lungs of the exhaling smoker to the ventilation system. On its way, workers are unavoidably exposed to second-hand smoke’s 40-plus carcinogens."