Permission to smoke on patios is often provided for in Ontario bylaws, in particular those bylaws that have come into force on 31 May. At this time of year, allowing smoking on patios makes the transition to smoke-free status indoors easier.
Questions have arisen about what actually constitutes a patio. In California, the state's smoke-free law only applies to enclosed workplaces and does not have an impact on outdoor "non-enclosed" patios, "enclosed" being defined as having four walls and a ceiling. California officials interpret this definition as meaning that if any wall or ceiling around a patio cannot be both opened and closed at any time, the area is considered to be "enclosed". However, this can allow a business with a patio to use a rollup plastic or fabric tarp as patio walls that can be rolled down or put up, thus designating the patio space as 'enclosed'. In this case, the patio is considered 'enclosed' because it has the ability to become an enclosed space by rolling down the tarp or sheeting. The city of Long Beach, California has had considerable experience with this issue and has a local ordinance, which regulates patios in part, which is stronger than the California state law. For more on this issue, contact Peggy Preacely, coordinator of the Long Beach program at: (562) 570-8508.
There are currently 249 municipalities with bylaws that make public places 100% smoke-free.
To view a summary table of the policies regarding patios in the above municipalities, click here.
Some of these municipalities specifically address patios in the bylaw and will in fact have very detailed requirements that need to be met in order for patios to be exempted. Others simply exclude outdoor patios from the definition of a public place, thereby allowing them to be exempted. And finally, there are those that do not make reference to patios at all, leaving them unregulated with respect to smoking.
Only 12 municipalities (Haldimand County, Kingston, and New Tecumseth) have 100% smoke-free patios.
The remaining municipalities either exempt patios or do not regulate them.