Manitobans have been butting out in indoor public establishments since 2004. Now scientists are saying the smoking ban should extend to outdoor restaurant and bar patios as well.

The researchers said sitting near a smoker exposes non-smokers to high concentrations of smoke, even when outdoors.

“If we were sitting near a smoker and the smoke drifted over us what we registered were concentrations that were similar to someone who was experiencing a forest fire,” said Halifax air quality researcher Ryan Kennedy.

The researchers also said umbrellas commonly found on restaurant and bar patios can trap cigarette smoke and make it hard for non-smokers to avoid breathing it in second-hand.

The Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA) said it is pushing the Selinger government to extend the smoking ban to patios too.

Helena Jaworski enjoys having a cigarette while hanging out on patios along Corydon Avenue. “You've got to have some kind of place for a smoker to have a cigarette and not be harassed about it,” she said.

Non-smoker Ethan Davis said he isn't sure a ban is necessary, but he said cigarette smoke bothers him.

“The smell of it would ruin my appetite, really. I'd prefer if people didn't smoke at all," he said.

Smoker Ronda Landygo said it's all about smokers making sure they're not blowing smoke toward those around them. Umbrellas, no umbrellas, whatever, it's choices. We're outside, we're not inside anymore, so stop complaining."

MANTRA said, no matter how respectful smokers are, the second-hand smoke doesn't disappear on a patio. “It's about protecting the health of others,” said Murray Gibson of MANTRA.

“Many of these patios are connected to places that have restaurants, which is enclosed and smoke does filter back.”

A ban could impact businesses that rely on patios. Saffron’s manager Holly Kolevris doesn't think it would hurt them, but she said they are already over regulated.

“They're too controlling. They need to let us operate the way we operate,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Selinger government said it has no plans to implement smoking restrictions on outdoor patios. However, that doesn't mean individual municipalities like Winnipeg or Brandon are prohibited from doing so if they choose to.

- With a report by Jeff Keele