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December 20, 2005
“Private Club” ruling upholds smoking bylaw
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, reported today that Toronto’s smoking bylaw has been upheld by a court decision dismissing a restaurant’s attempt to get around the smoking ban by operating as a private club.

The Ontario Court of Justice found that Carlos Murphy’s attempt to operate as the Heritage Bicycle Club did not meet the qualifications to be exempted as a private club. The Court levied a $4,500 fine on the restaurant for failing to prohibit smoking, just under the $5,000 maximum. Carlos Murphy’s also dropped its constitutional challenge of the bylaw.

“This decision should put an end to the use of phony private clubs to get around Toronto’s smoking bylaw,” said Councillor John Filion, Chair of the Board of Health.

“This is a positive step toward the smoke-free enjoyment of public places that will improve the health of Toronto residents,” Dr. McKeown said.

Carlos Murphy’s was one of the first establishments charged when the ban on smoking in bars took effect June 1, 2004 and was the first involving the Heritage Bicycle Club. The founders of the ‘club’ were selling ‘membership packages’ to bars for thousands of dollars and promising to defend them if they were charged.

Other bars in the city that purchased Heritage Bicycle Club ‘memberships’ abandoned their attempts to operate as private clubs after charges were laid. Those that did take their cases to court were not supported by the club.

In May 2006, the new Smoke-Free Ontario Act will come into effect and smoking will be prohibited in all public places and workplaces across Ontario, including all private clubs.

Media contacts:

Gil Hardy
Toronto Public Health

Councillor John Filion
Chair of the Board of Health



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