Smoking law blocks minors from school pub

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By Julie Williamson

A city smoking bylaw has forced Ryerson’s pub to temporarily close its doors to underage students.The sign outside the basement doors of the Ram in the Rye breaks the bad news: “Due to no-smoking bylaw, we are obliged to ask those 18 years and under to refrain from entering this area.” It adds: “We are working to address this situation.” Starting June 1, 2001, a city of Toronto smoking bylaw has forced eating establishments to designate themselves as  bar or restaurant. The school pub is currently classifieds as a bar.

The bylaw allows smokers to light up on a bar’s premises, but prohibits entrance to anyone under 19. Meanwhile, businesses designated as restaurants can allow anybody of any age to enter as long as there is a designated smoking room (DSR) that is fully enclosed and separately ventilated. Plans to designate the Ram in the Rye as a restaurant are currently being assessed. If approved, the enclosed smoking area should be built “within the semester,” said Dale McNichol, managing director at Oakham House.

But until the renovations are complete, underage students like Matt Gorman can’t hang out at their campus pub. “I might have to resort to illegal matters,” said the first-year theatre student. “This is just saying go out and get yourself a fake I.D.” McNichol said he realizes the bylaw alienates some students and is working to find a resolution. On Monday, he met with an air design specialist, an interior designer and a city health inspector to discuss installing a separate smoking room so people under 19 can enter the basement pub.

The 55 square metre enclosed area, which will be built around the bar, will accommodate 50 smokers. Ashvin Bapat,a fourth-year information technology management student said the Ram in the Rye is already small enough without putting in a wall. “Smoke has always been bad here,” says Bapat. “I would just improve the ventilation.”

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