CORNER BROOK — Corner Brook Coun. Gary Kelly says smoking in cabs reflects poorly on the city.
He said he has personally experienced the lingering stench of cigarette smoke in taxis, and he does not like it one bit. He had smelled it before he brought the issue up at the city's public council meeting in July, and he again had it happen to him last week.
Kelly said the driver was not a smoker, but he was filling in for somebody, and the smell of cigarette smoke was clearly evident.
"I don't think it looks all that professional, I don't think it smells all that professional," the councillor said. "When I look at other cities, it is my understanding some other cities have banned smoking in cabs altogether."
In Newfoundland and Labrador, under the Smoke-Free Environment Act, smoking is prohibited in public places. Since the original act was introduced in 1994 smoking has been banned in taxis. Government inspectors and inspectors with the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation are enforcing the overall ban. According to the provincial government website, routine compliance inspections and complaint investigations occur throughout the province.
Regardless, according to Kelly, smoking in taxis continues. He said it is an issue with both drivers and passengers.
"My concern is what happens if somebody comes to our city and they get in the cab, and it stinks of smoke," he said. "It doesn't leave a very good impression. What if somebody gets in a cab who has respiratory conditions or whatever."
Realizing it is a person's place of employment, the councillor said the overall good must be considered. He asked city staff to look into what particular regulations govern smoking in taxis, and whether the city could introduce anything to further legislate it.
He said there is some confusion whether the provincial legislation pertains to smoking in taxis at all times or just when a paying customer is present. He would like to see smoking banned from cabs, period.
"I know that will be unpopular with some cab drivers, considering some of these guys work 14-16 hour days in these cabs," he said. "But, I think we have to look at the greater population.
"Not many places allow that sort of thing, and I think that would present a better image to the people of our city and people coming back and forth to the airport, that sort of stuff."
A request for clarification, and further information, on the regulations to the Department of Health and Community Services could not be granted as of deadline.