Note: the following has been adapted from the Government of Ontario's Smoke-Free Ontario Act (2017) fact sheet: How the Act Affects: Enclosed Workplaces. Ce document est disponible en Français. Pour obtenir plus d'information, veuillez communiquez avec un agent avec le bureau de santé publique aux numéro suivant (807) 625-5900
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 prohibits the smoking of tobacco, the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) to vape any substance, and the smoking of cannabis (medical or recreational) in enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places, as well as other designated places in Ontario, to protect workers and the public from second-hand smoke and vapour.
Smoking refers to the smoking or holding of lighted tobacco or cannabis (medical or recreational).
Vaping refers to inhaling or exhaling vapour from an electronic cigarette or holding an activated electronic cigarette, whether or not the vapour contains nicotine.
Employees are protected, by law, from exposure to second-hand smoke and vapour in an enclosed workplace. This is defined as the inside of any place, building, structure, or vehicle (or any part of them) that is covered by a roof and that employees work or spend time in during their work day, even during off-hours when people are not working. For example, an enclosed workplace includes an office building, the inside of a trailer office on a construction site, or a delivery truck (work vehicle).
Exemption – Use of Tobacco for Traditional Indigenous Cultural or Spiritual Purposes
The prohibition on smoking tobacco or holding lighted tobacco in an enclosed workplace or an enclosed public place does not apply to:
- An Indigenous person who smokes tobacco or holds lighted tobacco for traditional Indigenous cultural or spiritual purposes.
- A non-Indigenous person who smokes tobacco or holds lighted tobacco, if the activity is carried out with an Indigenous person for traditional Indigenous cultural or spiritual purposes.
Outdoor Places associated with Enclosed Workplaces
An employer may provide employees who smoke or vape with a shelter outdoors for the purpose of smoking or vaping. The shelter must not have more than two walls and a roof, and must comply with other rules in the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017.
For example, cafeterias in a workplace are treated the same as a restaurant in which food or drink are served, sold, or offered. As such, smoking and vaping is not permitted inside the cafeteria or on outdoor patios that are part of or next to the cafeteria.
Responsibilities of Employers
An employer includes an owner, manager or overseer of a workplace or job site who is responsible for, directly or indirectly, an employee.
Every employer of an enclosed workplace must:
- Give notice to the public that smoking and vaping is not allowed in the place.
- Post “No Smoking” and “No Vaping” signs, or a dual “No Smoking and No Vaping” sign at entrances, exits and washrooms of the place, in appropriate locations and in sufficient numbers, to ensure that the public is aware that smoking and vaping is not allowed.
- Ensure that no ashtrays or similar items remain in the place.
- Ensure that no one smokes or vapes in the place.
- Ensure that someone who refuses to comply with Ontario’s smoking and vaping laws does not remain in the place.
An employee is:
- A person who performs any work for, or supplies any services to, an employer; or
- A person who received any instruction or training in the activity, business, work, trade, occupation or profession of an employer.
Protection for Employees
- An employer cannot:
- Dismiss (or threaten to dismiss) an employee;
- Discipline or suspend an employee (or threaten to do so);
- Impose any penalty upon an employee; or
- Intimidate or coerce an employee, for following or attempting to enforce the SFOA, 2017.
If this were to happen, the employee may file a complaint in accordance with the procedure set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
For more information about filing a complaint, please call the Ministry of Labour: Toll-free: 1-800-531-5551 or visit the Ministry of Labour
Local public health units carry out inspections and respond to complaints about smoking and vaping in enclosed workplaces.
An individual who violates the prohibition on smoking or vaping in an enclosed workplace may be charged with an offence, and on conviction could be subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 (for a first offence) or $5,000 (for any further offence).
An employer that fails to fulfill their responsibility under the law may be charged with an offence, and if convicted, could face a maximum fine:
- For individuals: $2,000 (for a first offence); $5000 (for a second offence); $10,000 (for a third offence); $50,000 (four or more offences).
- For corporations: $5,000 (for a first offence); $10,000 (for a second offence);$25,000 (for a third offence); $75,000 (four or more offences).
Retaliation against an employee
- For Individuals: $4,000.
- For Corporations: $10,000.
- For individuals: $1,000 (for a first offence); $5,000 (two or more offences).
- For corporations: $100,000 (for a first offence); $300,000 (two or more offences).
This fact sheet is intended as a quick reference only and should not be considered to be legal advice. For more information, please contact the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and ask to speak with a tobacco enforcement officer: (807) 625-5900. You may also obtain information by calling toll-free:
- TTY 1-800-387-5559
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)
For specific information on smoking and vaping laws in enclosed workplaces, contact the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and ask to speak with a tobacco enforcement officer: (807) 625-5900.
For more information on the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website: ontario.ca/smokefree