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Ontario Legislation & Regulations

Smoke-Free Ontario Act

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) came into effect on May 31, 2006.

The SFOA replaced the 1994 Tobacco Control Act and makes all enclosed public places and workplaces (such as restaurants, bars, private clubs, work vehicles and offices) 100% smoke-free. It also toughens laws on tobacco sales to minors and restricts the display of tobacco products in retail outlets with a complete ban on the display of tobacco products by May 31, 2008. The Act was further amended to include regulations making all vehicles carrying children under the age of 16 smoke-free (January 2009), the banning of flavourings in cigarillos, and requires cigarillos to be sold in packages of no less than 20 (2010).

Additional SFOA regulations have also been implemented (2015) which prohibits smoking on outdoor hospitality patios (Legions and other veteran organizations are exempted), hospital grounds (with the allowance for Board-approved designated smoking areas), and outdoor playgrounds and sports fields. The sale of tobacco products on post-secondary educational campuses are also prohibited under these regulations.

On May 31, 2015, the Making Healthier Choices Act was passed. As part of this Act, the SFOA was amended to ban the sale of all flavoured tobacco products, including menthol. The MHCA also included the creation and passage of the Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2015 (ECA), which banned the sale and supply of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19 as of January 1, 2016.

On December 12, 2017, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 was passed. The Act combined the then SFOA and the ECA.

Regulations under the revised Act are set to be implemented on July 1, 2018. In addition to the regulations already included in the former SFOA and ECA, the regulations of the SFOA 2017 will prohibit the use of e-cigarettes and medical cannabis anywhere smoking is not allowed. The Act also prohibits smoking, the use of e-cigarettes and medical cannabis within a 9m radius surrounding any outdoor bar or restaurant patio and within a 20m radius of any school or community recreational facility. The display and promotion of e-cigarettes is also prohibited except in specialty vaping stores. Testing and demonstrations of e-cigarettes will be allowed in specialty vaping stores, as long as no vapour is inhaled or exhaled from the e-cigarette.

Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (1979)

This Act lists known toxic agents and makes recommendations to control the use of such agents in the workplace. Certain carcinogens found in second-hand smoke are those named by the Act: seven of the listed toxic agents are found in second-hand smoke emitted from at least 33 cigarette brands available for sale in Canada. However, the Ministry of Labour maintains that the Act does not apply to second-hand smoke because it is generated as a result of a worker smoking, which is not a work related activity.

Health Protection and Promotion Act (1983)

This Act gives the Medical Officers of Health for Ontario broad discretionary powers to protect community health, which includes the power to investigate and take appropriate action on complaints of occupational and environmental health hazards. It is possible that Medical Officers of Health could use these enabling powers to declare tobacco smoke a health hazard and order its elimination from Ontario workplaces. For a more detailed discussion on how this Act could be used to regulate second-hand smoke in public places and workplaces, please refer to the Smoking and Health Action Foundation publication, Using Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act to Reduce Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke

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