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New Steps for a Smoke-Free Ontario

Archived Backgrounder

New Steps for a Smoke-Free Ontario

Ministry of Health

The Ontario government is strengthening the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to further protect youth from the harmful effects of tobacco.

Starting January 1, 2015, it will be illegal to:

  • Smoke on bar and restaurant patios
  • Smoke on playgrounds and public sports fields and surfaces
  • Sell tobacco on university and college campuses.

Reducing Access to Tobacco Products for Youth 

Ontario is making it more difficult for young people to purchase tobacco by prohibiting tobacco sales on postsecondary education campuses.  The new regulations will apply to buildings that are owned and areas that are leased by postsecondary institutions or student unions, which are used for students' education programs, recreational activities or residential services.

Protecting Ontarians from Exposure to Tobacco Use 

Children are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke exposure. Studies show that young people are less likely to become regular smokers when living in areas with strong tobacco control regulations for restaurants when compared to areas where regulations are weaker.

Currently, smoking is not permitted on covered or partially covered patios in Ontario. Under the new regulations, smoking will be prohibited on all bar and restaurant outdoor patios. The only exemption under the new regulations is for uncovered patios that were established by a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion - Ontario Provincial Command prior to November 18, 2013. 

As well, Ontario is prohibiting smoking on and around playgrounds and public sport fields and surfaces. This includes areas for basketball, baseball, soccer or beach volleyball, ice rinks, tennis courts, splash pads and swimming pools that are owned by a municipality, the province or a postsecondary education institution. The prohibition includes sport fields, sport surfaces, spectator areas around sport fields and 20 metres surrounding these locations. It also includes playgrounds at hotels, motels and inns.

Many Ontario municipalities have already taken action to restrict smoking in public spaces. Sixty-five municipalities have banned smoking on playgrounds, 60 have banned tobacco use on sports and recreational fields, and 10 have prohibited smoking on restaurant and bar patios.   

Progress Already Made 

Since 2005, Ontario has become a national and international leader in tobacco control. 

Through the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, the government has taken a strong stance to protect the people of Ontario from second-hand smoke in enclosed public places and workplaces. Further amendments to the Act include protecting kids from exposure to second-hand smoke in motor vehicles as of 2009, and prohibiting the sale of flavoured cigarillos as of 2010. 

Ontario's smoking rate fell from 24.5 per cent in 2000 to 18.1 per cent in 2013, representing 332,361 fewer smokers

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