Toronto's parks and environment committee voted unanimously to endorse a limit on smoking at city parks, beaches and sports facilities.
It would ban smoking tobacco within nine metres of all sports fields – everywhere from soccer pitches to bocce courts – when the field is in use. It also prohibits smoking on all city beaches, at pools, bike parks, skate parks and the ticket area for the Toronto Islands ferry. Smoking would be banned within nine metres of all park structures as well, such as gazebos, covered picnic areas and stages.
"Most of us agree that our children shouldn't have to endure someone else's cigarette smoke in parks," said the committee chair, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.
"I consider kissing anyone who smokes like kissing an ashtray. I don't want to play with the ashtray in the park, either."
The endorsement follows a similar move in September by the board of health, which recommended that the city expand the current smoking ban – which prohibits smoking in workplaces, restaurants, bars and in cars with small children present – to prohibit smoking within nine metres of all public buildings.
Both recommendations will be brought before council in November for an official vote.
The city's medical officer of health, David McKeown, said that expanding the smoking restrictions would help Toronto catch up to other North American cities. "It won't put us out in front; we really are following the lead of other places at this stage," Dr. McKeown said.
"We always strike a balance between protecting the health of the public and restricting people's rights," he added. "I think we're striking the right balance in these restrictions."
In the past, Mayor Rob Ford has been hesitant about placing too many limits on personal choices, such as smoking. "I don't like government getting involved and telling people where they can smoke and where they can't," Mr. Ford said after the health board's decision in September.
Mr. Mammoliti said he was not sure whether he would have the mayor's support on the parks committee's recommendation. "But I tend to think that he will probably lean towards supporting it," he said.