Taking the Next Steps for a Smoke-Free Ontario
Ontario will reintroduce legislation that would strengthen the Smoke-Free Ontario Act by further protecting youth from to the harmful effects of tobacco. The changes would make it harder for youth to obtain e-cigarettes and tobacco products, make tobacco products less tempting by banning flavoured tobacco, including menthol, and permit the government to further limit exposure to second-hand smoke in public areas.
The changes are part of the Ontario government's continuing efforts to have the lowest smoking rate in the country.
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 in protecting the people of Ontario from second-hand smoke in enclosed public places and enclosed workplaces. Further amendments to the Act created additional protections, including protecting children from exposure to second-hand smoke in motor vehicles as of 2009, and prohibiting the sale of flavoured cigarillos as of 2010.
On November 7th, the government announced it is moving forward with regulatory changes that will make it more difficult for young people to purchase tobacco by prohibiting tobacco sales on post-secondary education campuses. The new regulation will apply to buildings that are owned and areas that are leased by a post-secondary institution or a student union, and used to offer post-secondary education programs to students or provide recreational or residential services to students.
It also announced that smoking will be prohibited on all bar and restaurant outdoor patios. The only exemption under the regulation is for uncovered patios that were established by a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion prior to November 18, 2013.
Finally, it announced that it is prohibiting smoking on playgrounds, publicly owned sporting areas, spectator areas adjacent to sporting areas and the 20 metres surrounding these areas. Sporting areas include areas for basketball, baseball, soccer or beach volleyball, and ice rinks, tennis courts, and swimming pools that are owned by a municipality, the province or a post-secondary education institution. Playgrounds include playgrounds at hotels, motels and inns.
The regulation changes announced on November 7th will take effect on January 1, 2015.
Since 2000, Ontario's smoking prevalence rate has fallen from 24.5 per cent to 18.1per cent in 2013, which equals approximately 332,000 fewer smokers in Ontario. Despite significant progress in curbing the use of tobacco products, 13,000 Ontarians still die each year as a result of tobacco-related diseases.
- In 2012/13, almost half of young smokers in Ontario, or 46 per cent, used flavoured tobacco products, and a quarter, 24 per cent, used menthol, making it by far the most popular flavor among youth.