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Smoking laws in Ontario

Region: Ontario Answer Number: 692

Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA)

Ontario’s Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017  was supposed to come into force on July 1, 2018, but has been put on hold. This new Act prohibits vaping in non-smoking areas as well as greater restrictions on the retailing of vaping and ancillary products. The Ontario government has put this new Act on hold until it can further examine the health impact of vaping.

Therefore, the current provisions in the existing Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2006, and the Electronic Cigarettes Act remain in effect and will continue to be enforced.

Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2006

What is prohibited?

The SFOA applies to tobacco “in any processed or unprocessed form that may be smoked, inhaled or chewed, including snuff, but does not apply to products intended for use in nicotine replacement therapy.”

Prohibited places

Prohibited places include:

  • enclosed workplaces,
  • enclosed public places, and
  • other specifically designated places in Ontario.

For instance, it is illegal to smoke in:

  • schools
  • child care facilities
  • common area in apartment buildings or condominiums, university or college residences, such as elevators and hallways
  • places where early years programs are held
  • reserved seating areas of a sports arenas or entertainment venues
  • a prescribed place or area.

Smoking in the workplace

Under the SFOA, smoking is prohibited in an enclosed workplace, which is defined as:

“(a) the inside of any place, building or structure or vehicle or conveyance or a part of any of them,

(i) that is covered by a roof,

(ii) that employees work in or frequent during the course of their employment whether or not they are acting in the course of their employment at the time, and

(iii) that is not primarily a private dwelling, or

(b) a prescribed place”

Examples of enclosed workplace areas include: temporary office structures, restaurant kitchens, parking garages and washrooms.

Who does the SFOA apply to in the workplace?

An “employee” is a person who:

  • Performs any work for or supplies any services to an employer, or
  • A person who receives any instruction or training in the activity, business, work, trade, occupation or profession of an employer.

An “employer” includes:

  • An owner, operator, proprietor, manager, superintendent, overseer, receiver or trustee of an activity, business, work, trade, occupation, profession, project or undertaking who has control or direction of, or is directly or indirectly responsible for, the employment of a person in it.

What are the employer’s responsibilities?

All employers who operate an enclosed workplace must comply with the following regulations:

  • post “No Smoking” or other prescribed signs throughout the workplace, such as all entrances, exits, and washrooms;
  • provide notice to employees of the prohibitions;
  • ensure that the SFAO is complied with, and no one smokes or holds lighted tobacco in an enclosed workplace, public place, or area where smoking is banned;
  • ensure that a person who does not comply with the prohibition leaves the premises; and
  • make sure there are no ashtrays (or any object that serves as one) in the enclosed workplace

Individuals found smoking or holding lighted tobacco in a place where it has been prohibited, may be ticketed and charged a fine.

Federal workers – Non-smokers’ Health Act

The Non-smokers’ Health Act restricts smoking in federally regulated workplaces, public places under federal jurisdiction, and on certain types of transportation, such as airplanes and trains. For more information, view the Act.

Legal age to smoke

In Ontario, a person must be 19 years of age to legally buy, be provided with, or smoke tobacco products.

Selling tobacco to minors

Retailers caught selling tobacco and tobacco products to minors are subject to fines ranging from $490 to $300,000.

When selling tobacco products employees and employers must request identification from anyone who appears to be under the age of 25, and must post signs regarding identification, the age restriction and health warnings. Failure to post these signs could result in a fine of $240 – $75,000.

For more information about smoking in Ontario, view the SFAO, or visit

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