Live Tobacco-Free

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Second-hand Smoke and the Law

Smoke from the burning end of a cigarette has more harmful chemicals in it than the smoke inhaled directly by the person who is smoking it. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Infants and children are particularly at risk to the effects of second-hand smoke. Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at greater risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma.

Exposure to second-hand smoke can increase your risk of:

  • heart disease (by 25-30%) and lung cancer (by 20-30%)
  • nasal, sinus, breast and cervical cancer
  • breathing problems like emphysema, pneumonia and bronchitis

Smoke-free Homes and Cars

Create a smoke-free home and smoke-free car to protect yourself, your family members and visitors from exposure to second-hand smoke. Over 70% of Ontario households ask family members and visitors to go outside to smoke. Smoke-free areas in your daily life can also be a step towards quitting tobacco for good. Talk about it with your family, take the steps to making your home smoke-free

 Second-hand smoke is even more dangerous inside a small space like your car. Harmful carbon monoxide is more concentrated in a small space and this can affect a driver's ability to stay alert. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in a car with children under the age of 16.

Smoke-free Apartments, Condos and Co-ops

Four out of five Ontarians living in apartments, condominiums or housing co-ops want to live in a smoke-free building.

There are 70+ known smoke-free community and social housing communities in Ontario, as well as a growing number of condominiums and co-ops. If more people ask for smoke-free housing, more smoke-free options will become available. For more information on existing smoke-free buildings visit Smoke-Free Housing Ontario.

ExpandWhat are the laws for second-hand smoke in multi-unit buildings like apartments and condos?

The Smoke Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in common areas of multi-unit buildings (apartments, condos, and co-ops) such as: laundry rooms, stairwells, lobby areas and elevators, however there is no law in Ontario that prohibits smoking in private residences. If you live in an apartment, condominium, townhouse or semi-detached home, you may be exposed to second-hand smoke from another unit in your building. Although there is no law to stop smoking in private units, it is legal for landlords, condo/co-op members or property owners to make their buildings 100% smoke-free.

The City of Toronto Bylaw (MC 709) prohibits smoking within nine metres (30 feet) of an entrance or exit of any building that is used by the public. The bylaw applies to multi-unit residential buildings (apartments, condos, co-ops) that have an open/unlocked door, an open/unlocked lobby area, and/or a store, business or community space that makes the building accessible to employees and the public. Bylaw signage (PDF) is available and free to download.

ExpandHow does second-hand smoke travel from one unit to another?

No home is airtight and second-hand smoke travels anywhere and everywhere it can; through open windows or doors, including from a neighbour's patio or balcony, through electrical outlets, duct work, cable or phone jacks, water or gas pipes and ceiling light fixtures and through any cracks or gaps in floors, walls or ceilings. Some multi-unit buildings share heating and ventilation systems that actually force the tobacco smoke from one unit into another.

ExpandI am being exposed to second-hand smoke from another unit. What can I do?

You may be able to work with your landlord and/or the condo or co-op board members and other residents to create a no-smoking policy for your building. It may take time for your building to become 100% smoke-free. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Keep a record of the dates and times that you are aware of smoke in your unit, as well as your efforts to solve the problem.

  • Get a letter from your Family Doctor describing how the second-hand smoke is affecting your health and/or the health of your family.

  • If you know where the smoke is coming from and you feel comfortable doing so, talk to your neighbour about the drifting smoke and try to work out a solution. Your neighbour may not be aware that the smoke is a problem for you in your unit.

  • Talk to your landlord or co-op/condo board representatives and other neighbours and seek their support. You are likely not the only person being affected by unwanted smoke.

  • Contact your tenant association, co-op or condominium board to inform them about the issue or to make a formal complaint. They are likely to have the resources to educate and inform tenants, organize tenants and lobby for tenants' rights. The more they are aware of second-hand smoke as an issue, the better prepared they'll be to address the problem. Consider starting a petition that can be presented to the landlord to request a no-smoking policy. For more information on how to create a no-smoking policy in your building, visit Smoke-free Housing Ontario.

  • Contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 to make a complaint and a Tobacco Enforcement Officer will follow -up to make sure no laws are being broken.

  • If you are unable to find a solution to the problem and your health and/or the health of your family is being affected you may need to move out. Visit Smoke-Free Housing Ontario to find out more about moving without a financial penalty for breaking your lease and also for smoke-free buildings in the province of Ontario. You may need to contact The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) or a community legal clinic to address the matter.

 

You can also arrange for a public health nurse to walk you through some of your options by calling 416-338-7600. Whether you are a landlord, a condo owner, property manager, tenant or housing co-op member we can provide you with information on the major financial and health benefits of smoke-free buildings.

ExpandI am being exposed to second-hand smoke. Do I have legal rights?

If there are problems such as damaged walls, ceilings or floors or a ventilation system that is not working properly which permits smoke to enter your unit, your landlord should make the required repairs.

Under the Residential Tenancy Act, tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment (or reasonable enjoyment) of their home. This includes the right to be free from being disturbed by other tenants. While the Act does not mention second-hand smoke, you may be able to prove that the smoke entering your unit is harming your health and well-being, and therefore the loss of reasonable enjoyment of your home.

Canadian case law supports that no-smoking policies are fair. Residents with health conditions made worse by being exposed to second-hand smoke have started to cite that they were discriminated against by their housing providers and corporations. Recently, tenants who were exposed to second-hand smoke won cases in front of the Landlord Tenant Tribunal and Ontario Human Rights Court .

For more information on your rights, visit Smoke Free Housing Ontario. If you need a legal opinion, consult your local community legal clinic or contact The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA).

ExpandI am a landlord. What are my responsibilities? Is it possible to make my building smoke-free?

Landlords in Ontario have the right to ban smoking in all or part of a building, including indoor units and outdoor patios and balconies. While they cannot change current tenancy agreements, landlords can include a non-smoking clause in new agreements. This means that current tenants are able to continue smoking in their units as they signed a previous tenancy agreement. When those tenants move out and new ones move in, the units can then become smoke-free under the new tenancy agreement.

Landlords in rental properties must act on all reasonable complaints from tenants. If there is proof that a landlord was aware of a problem and failed to take steps to address it there may be grounds for breach of reasonable enjoyment. The landlord should make repairs or changes to the building such as sealing cracks, weather stripping doors, and upgrading ventilation systems.

A study of Ontario homes showed that smoking in the home can lessen its value by up to 29%. This means that if the average home is $369,000, the amount of money lost due to smoking can be up $107,000!

As a landlord you may want to consider making part or all of the building smoke-free. No-smoking policies are legal and enforceable, and most future tenants want to live in a smoke-free home. For more information on how to make your building smoke-free go to Smoke-Free Housing Ontario's page for landlords.

ExpandWhat about smokers? Are no-smoking policies discriminatory?

There is no such thing as a right to smoke; there is a freedom to smoke but not a right as preserved in Canadian law, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Human Rights Code.

A no-smoking policy is not a no-smoker policy. A person that smokes cannot be refused tenancy or evicted because of being a person that smokes. A no-smoking policy generally means that tenants must smoke outside of the building or off the property; this depends on the details of the buildings policy.

No-smoking policies are normally well supported by the majority of tenants and if everyone respects the policy there should be no issues. If your building wants to put a no-smoking policy in place, try to make sure that people who smoke and people who don't smoke are included in the meetings or committees.

If you smoke and would like to quit, we can help. For more information go to our quitting page.

Smoke-free Laws

Toronto and Ontario laws are in place to:

  • protect people from being exposed to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke
  • help smokers reduce or consider quitting altogether
  • reduce the visibility of smoking making it less socially acceptable to children and youth


Toronto Public Health's Tobacco Enforcement Officers conduct routine inspections and investigate complaints to ensure compliance with the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA) and the Tobacco Bylaw (MCC 709).

To report any tobacco related violation or to ask a question about second hand smoke and the law, call 416-338-7600. Our Enforcement page provides a list of the businesses that have been convicted for SFOA offences.

ExpandApartments/Condos/Co-ops

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) prohibits smoking in enclosed public places in Ontario.

In multi-unit housing buildings (condos, co-ops and apartment buildings), this would apply to common areas such as:

  • elevators
  • stairwells
  • hallways
  • parking garages
  • laundry facilities
  • lobbies
  • exercise areas
  • entertainment rooms


Visit the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care for more information about the law regarding SFOA and multi-unit housing. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Buildings

There is currently no law in Ontario that prohibits smoking in private residences in multi-unit buildings, however making your home and even your building smoke-free is the best way to protect yourself and your family from exposure to second-hand smoke. It is possible for individual landlords, condo or co-op boards to create their own no-smoking policies that apply to private residences.

For more information on existing smoke-free buildings and/or to find out more about creating a smoke-free policy:

ExpandBuilding Entrances/Exits

The City of Toronto Smoking Bylaw (MCC 709) (PDF) prohibits smoking within 9 metres of entrances and exits of any building that is used by the public, including:

  • Municipal buildings (such as City Hall, civic centres, recreation and community centres, libraries, arenas and administrative offices)
  • Shopping malls, stores
  • Offices and institutional buildings
  • Restaurants, bars and cafes
  • Multi-residential buildings (e.g. condos, apartments and other similar residential buildings) that can be accessed by the public. For example, if there is an entrance at street level that is open for the public to enter the building such as a lobby or foyer with an indoor buzzer panel


Building proprietor responsibilities:

  • Post no-smoking signs, at building entrances and exits
  • Move ashtrays away from prohibited areas
  • Ensure no one is smoking within nine metres of building entrances or exits


Tobacco Enforcement Officers enforce the bylaw on a complaints basis. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.


Bylaw signage available to download. To order a print copy call 416-338-7600.

 

ExpandCity of Toronto Public Squares

The City of Toronto Public Squares Bylaw (MCC 636/237) prohibits smoking on City of Toronto public squares including:

  • Yonge Dundas Square
  • David Pecaut Square
  • Mel Lastman Square
  • Albert Campbell Square
  • Nathan Phillips Square

Proprietor Responsibilities include:

  • Post at least two no smoking signs in the square
  • Remove ashtrays in the square
  • Ensure no one is smoking anywhere in the square


Complaints can be made to Security Staff and/or Building Management. Complaints may also be forwarded to Tobacco Enforcement Officers. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

ExpandCommunity Health Centres

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking within 9 metres of entrances/exits to health care facilities including Community Health Centres and Family Health Teams.

Tobacco Enforcement Officers enforce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and will investigate complaints. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

ExpandE-Cigarettes

Under 19 E-cigarettes logoUnder the E-Cigarette Act. the following restrictions come into force with respect to electronic cigarettes with or without nicotine:

  • Prohibit the sale and supply to minors under the age of 19

Retailers (includes anyone who sells e-cigarettes) must:

  • Post signs regarding age-based sales restrictions
  • Prohibit sales to minors

Tobacco Enforcement Officers enforce the E-Cigarette Act, through routine inspections and the investigation of complaints. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

ExpandHospitals

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking anywhere on the outdoor grounds of hospitals (both private and public hospitals) and psychiatric facilities as of January 1, 2015. 

Hospitals must:

  • post no-smoking signs
  • remove ashtrays on the hospital grounds

An outdoor Controlled Smoking Area (CSA) and/or Controlled E-Cigarette Use Area (CEA) is permitted on outdoor hospital grounds, provided the CSA and CEA meets the following requirements:

  • no portion of the CSA/CEA is located within a 9 metre radius surrounding any entrance or exit of the hospital, facility or office building
  • is identified as a smoking/e-cigarette use area by one or more signs posted on or around the smoking area
  • the CEA must be in a different location from the designated CSA


A hospital can choose to provide a smoking and/or e-cigarette use shelter on the grounds if it:

  • has no more than two walls and a roof
  • is located outside a 9 metre radius of any entrance or exit

Tobacco Enforcement Officers enforce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and will investigate complaints. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

ExpandOutdoor Playing Fields

As of January 1, 2015, the revised Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) does not allow smoking at publicly-owned outdoor sporting areas, spectator areas, sporting areas and public areas within 20 metres of any point of the edge of the sporting or spectator areas.

This applies to spaces:

  • owned by the province, a municipality, colleges and universities
  • used primarily for sports, such as soccer, football, basketball, beach volleyball or skateboarding (with the exception of golf)
  • open to the public whether or not a fee is charged to enter


How much is 20 metres?


20 bicycles

ExpandParks and Sporting Areas

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking on and within a 20 metres radius of:

  • playgrounds
  • sporting areas and adjacent spectator areas

A playground is defined as an area:

  • primarily used for the purposes of children's recreation
  • fitted with children’s play equipment
  • open to the public (whether or not a fee is charged for entry)
  • not part of a residential location (e.g. condo/apartment building, and campground)


A sporting area is defined to include an area:

  • that is provincially or municipally owned and includes a sporting area on a post-secondary campus
  • primarily used for the purposes of sports as set out in the sporting areas listed below
  • open to the public (whether or not a fee is charged for entry)
  • used for soccer; football; basketball; tennis; baseball, softball or cricket; skating; beach volleyball; running; swimming or skateboarding. Note: Golf is specifically excluded

The City of Toronto Parks Bylaw prohibits smoking:

  • Within the boundaries and within a 9 metre radius of
    • covered picnic shelters or gazebos
    • outdoor theatre spaces
  • Anywhere at or on
    • city of Toronto park zoo and farm areas (e.g. High Park Zoo, Riverdale Farm)
    • city of Toronto swimming beaches
    • waiting areas or service lines in parks (Toronto Island Ferry Dock)

Tobacco Enforcement Officers and Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) Parks Officers will investigate complaints of non-compliance. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600 or 311.

ExpandPatios (restaurants, cafes, bars)

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) prohibits smoking on restaurant and bar patios (covered or uncovered).

All employers, owners and operators of such facilities must:

  • post "No Smoking" signs at all entrances, exits, washrooms and anywhere signs can be easily placed and seen
  • make sure that no one smokes or holds lighted tobacco in an enclosed workplace, public place, or area where smoking is banned
  • make sure that a person who does not comply leaves the premises
  • remove ashtrays (or any object that serves as one)

Uncovered patios established by the Royal Canadian Legion are exempt.

Tobacco Enforcement Officers enforce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and will investigate complaints. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

ExpandResidential Care Facilities

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in residential care facilities. They are considered both an enclosed public place and an enclosed workplace. However, some residential care facilities may choose to construct and operate a controlled smoking area for residents to smoke. These include:

  • long-term care or retirement homes or publicly funded supportive housing residences
  • certain psychiatric facilities
  • certain veterans' facilities


A residential care facility must have its controlled smoking area approved by and registered with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Tobacco Enforcement Officers enforce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and will investigate complaints. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

ExpandSales, Supply and Promotion of Tobacco Products

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) bans the sales and supply of tobacco products to minors under the age of 19. The SFOA also bans the display of tobacco products prior to purchase and prohibits youth-targeted tobacco products.

Toronto Public Health conducts routine inspections and investigates complaints to ensure compliance with the SFOA. Our Enforcement page provides a list of the businesses that have been convicted for SFOA offences. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

ExpandSchools

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) prohibits tobacco use anywhere on school property and on school grounds.

School staff have responsibilities under the SFOA to ensure compliance with the legislation. Toronto Public Health conducts routine inspections and investigates complaints to ensure compliance with the SFOA. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

ExpandWorkplaces (offices, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, community centres, stores, factories, etc.)

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) prohibits smoking in all indoor workplaces (including workplace vehicles) and enclosed public places.The SFOA also prohibits smoking on bar and restaurant patios (covered or uncovered). Uncovered patios established by the Royal Canadian Legion are exempt.

All employers, owners and operators of such facilities must:

  • post "No Smoking" signs at all entrances, exits, washrooms and anywhere signs can be easily placed and seen
  • make sure that no one smokes or holds lighted tobacco in an enclosed workplace, public place, or area where smoking is banned
  • make sure that a person who does not comply leaves the premises
  • remove ashtrays (or any object that serves as one)


Toronto Public Health conducts routine inspections and investigates complaints to ensure compliance with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. To report a violation, call 416-338-7600.

The Good Neighbour Guide, available on the City of Toronto Licensing webpage, outlines mandatory requirements and "good will" measures that can be taken to help the bar and restaurant industry comply with regulations and operate in harmony with its neighbours, particularly residential neighbours.