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Building on the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy

Archived Backgrounder

Building on the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy

Ministry of Health

The Making Healthier Choices Act has strengthened the Smoke-Free Ontario Act by further protecting youth from the harmful effects of tobacco.

The legislation amends the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to:

  • Make it harder for youth to obtain tobacco products
  • Make tobacco products less tempting by banning the sale of flavoured tobacco, with a temporary exemption for menthol
  • Permit the government to further limit exposure to second-hand smoke in public areas.

The inclusion of flavoured tobacco and menthol in these amendments is important step to protect youth from the harmful effects of smoking. In 2012-13, almost half of young smokers in Ontario, or 46 per cent, used flavoured tobacco products, while a quarter of them, 24 per cent, used menthol, making it by far the most popular flavor among youth.

In addition, the Making Healthier Choices establishes new legislation, the Electronic Cigarettes Act, to regulate the sale, display, promotion and use of electronic cigarettes, including banning their sale to minors. 

A Goal to Have the Lowest Smoking Rate in Canada

Since 2005, Ontario has become a national and international leader in tobacco control. The latest changes are part of the Ontario government's continuing efforts to have the lowest smoking rate in the country.

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. Prior 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. 

Strengthening Protective Measures

Effective January 1, 2015, the regulation under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act was amended to further protect young people from the dangers of tobacco and all Ontarians from exposure to second-hand smoke.  The amended regulation makes it more difficult for young people to purchase tobacco by prohibiting tobacco sales on postsecondary education campuses. This sales ban applies to buildings that are owned and areas that are leased by a postsecondary institution or a student union, and are used to offer postsecondary education programs to students or provide recreational or residential services to students.

Under the amended regulation, smoking is now 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 is also now illegal to smoke on outdoor playgrounds, publicly owned sporting areas, spectator areas adjacent to sporting areas and the 20 metres surrounding each of 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 postsecondary education institution. Playgrounds include playgrounds at hotels, motels and inns.

Ontario's smoking prevalence rate has fallen from 24.5 per cent in 2000 to 18.1 per 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.

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