Smoke-Free Ontario Act: legislation, inspections, and complaints
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) was introduced on May 31, 2006, as part of a broad strategy to reduce tobacco use and reduce second hand exposure to tobacco smoke in Ontario.
October 17, 2018, the Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2015 (Government of Ontario) was repealed and the SFOA was expanded to include the regulation of the sale, supply, promotion and use of e-cigarettes, as well as cannabis prohibitions.
Key changes to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017
The SFOA regulates the smoking and vaping of tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and cannabis to protect the people of Ontario, especially youth, from the harms of tobacco, the potential harms of vapour products, and the harms of second-hand cannabis smoke.
Highlighted below are some of the provincial changes to the SFOA that include no smoking or vaping in the following places:
- on a restaurant or bar patio and public areas within 9 metres of a patio
- children’s playgrounds and public areas within 20 metres of playgrounds
- within 20 metres of a sporting area or spectator area (including but not limited to skating, soccer, football, swimming, baseball)
- on the grounds of a community recreational facility and public areas within 20 metres of the grounds (including but not limited to arenas, pools, gyms)
- within 20 metres of a school property
These changes are in addition to what was already under the SFOA. For further details on this regulation see Ontario Regulation 268/18 (Government of Ontario).
Tobacco, electronic cigarette, and cannabis enforcement by Public Health Sudbury & Districts focuses on preventing the display, promotion, and sale of tobacco and electronic cigarette products to individuals under 19 years of age and protecting the public and employees from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke through enforcement of provincial legislation.
Legislation: Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017
Under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (Government of Ontario), it is against the law to:
- sell or supply tobacco and electronic cigarette products to a person who is less than 19 years of age
- display tobacco products anywhere where tobacco is sold
- smoke or vape in enclosed public places, workplaces, and workplace vehicles
- smoke or vape within 9 meters of an entrance to a long-term care facility
- smoke or vape in prohibited places and on school properties
- smoke tobacco or vape in a motor vehicle when a person less than 16 years of age is present
- smoke or vape on hospital property
For more information on the law and how it applies to you, read the Act and Regulations (Government of Ontario).
Some municipalities have enacted more restrictive bylaws, including the City of Greater Sudbury Regulate Smoking and Vaping in Public Places By-law 2019-65.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (Government of Ontario) prohibits smoking or vaping in enclosed public places and other designated places in Ontario to protect the public from the hazards of second-hand smoke. Smoking or vaping is prohibited in all enclosed public places including (click on the links below to learn more):
- community recreation facilities
- child care centres
- enclosed places
- government buildings
- home health care
- hotels, motels, and inns
- multi-unit residences
- residential care facilities
- restaurants and bars
- sporting areas
An enclosed public place is the inside area of any public place, building, or structure or vehicle or conveyance or a part of any of them that is covered by a roof, and to which the public has access.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (Government of Ontario) prohibits smoking or vaping in enclosed workplaces in Ontario to protect employees from exposure to second-hand smoke. In addition, the Act requires that all employees and employers ensure that their environments remain smoke-free.
For more information read the How the Act Affects Enclosed Workplaces factsheet.
We can assist with developing smoke-free policies.
Furthermore, the ban on smoking or vaping in the workplace is always in effect, even during off-hours.
An enclosed workplace is the inside of a building, structure, or vehicle that an employee works in or frequents during their employment.
It is prohibited to smoke or vape inside any workplace vehicle in the province of Ontario.
In addition, no one in a motor vehicle (including motorized snow vehicles such as snowmobiles) or boat that is being driven, or is at risk of being put into motion, can consume cannabis in any manner (smoking, vaping, eating). This is enforced by police officers and not Smoke-Free Ontario Act inspectors.
For more information read the following How the Act Affects Smoking and Vaping in Vehicles and Boats factsheet.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (Government of Ontario) prohibits smoking or vaping tobacco or cannabis in schools, on school property, and within 20 metres of school property. All school property owned or leased by the school boards must be smoke-free at all times. In addition, schools must have signs posted at all entrances.
Anyone in contravention of either smoking on school property, selling, or supplying tobacco or electronic cigarettes to a person under the age of 19 years can face a fine of up to $5,000. Public Health Sudbury & Districts Smoke-Free Ontario Act inspectors conduct regular checks of school properties to ensure compliance with the Act.
For more information read the following How the Act Effects Schools factsheet.
Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette retailers (employers) must ensure that all staff are trained (Ministry of Health) and understand the requirements of the Act (Ministry of Health).
For more information read the following factsheets:
Tobacco and e-cigarette inspections and enforcement
Public Health Sudbury & Districts conducts two types of inspections of tobacco and e-cigarette vendors under the Act. The first is a compliance inspection, which is done once per year to ensure that display, marketing, and product restrictions under the Act and Regulation are being met.
The second type of inspection is an Access to Minors or Test Shop. These inspections are conducted twice annually to verify that tobacco or electronic cigarette products are not being sold to individuals under the age of 19. Infractions found during either of these inspections can lead to an offence notice (ticket). If a vendor is convicted two times within five years, they may be given a Prohibition Order, which means that they will not be able to sell tobacco products for a set period of time. An initial Prohibition Order lasts six months, but the time increases if the vendor receives additional orders.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) regulates cannabis retail in Ontario. The AGCO has the authority to license, regulate, and enforce the sale of recreational cannabis in privately run stores in Ontario. The Ontario Cannabis Store website is the only legal way to purchase recreational cannabis online. It follows strict rules set by the federal government.
For more information read the following factsheets:
Further details on the regulation can be found on the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (Government of Ontario) website.
Check Before You Go! Inspection and enforcement information
For inspection and enforcement information, visit Check Before You Go! or contact us at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200). Check Before You Go! has information about required and follow-up inspections, infractions, convictions, as well as orders imposed by Public Health Sudbury & Districts.
You can find information related to:
- food premises
- licensed child care settings
- personal services settings
- public beaches
- public pools, spas, and splash pads
- recreational camps
- small drinking water systems
- tobacco and electronic cigarette vendors
Tobacco, cannabis, or e-cigarette complaints
If you see a retailer selling tobacco or e-cigarettes to a person who is less than 19 years of age or someone smoking tobacco, vaping, or smoking cannabis in a prohibited place please report it to Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Our Smoke-Free Ontario Act inspectors follow up on all complaints.
Complaint investigations can result in offence notices being issued to owners, operators, workers, clients, or members of the public based on the situation.
To make a complaint (two options):
- Contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts by calling 705.522.9200, ext. 464 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).
- Fill out and submit an online complaint form.
This item was last modified on January 19, 2021