Smoke-Free and Vape-Free Spaces
Second-hand smoke from burning tobacco products causes disease and death among non-smokers. There is no risk-free level of second-hand smoke, and even short-term exposure can cause harm. Even in an outdoor setting, second-hand smoke can be harmful.
Smoke-free and vape-free laws are in place to protect your health. Smoke-free spaces reduce exposure to tobacco smoke, prevent youth from starting to smoke, encourage cessation and support people who have recently quit. Smoke-free spaces also de-normalize the use of tobacco.
Smoking and vaping is restricted in places such as:
- Enclosed Workplaces and Enclosed Public Places
- Schools, hospitals and community centres (entire properties)
- Casinos, restaurants and bars, including patios
- Planes, trains, buses and bus shelters
- Public beaches (in some municipalities)
- Municipally-owned outdoor sports areas and playgrounds
Reporting a violation
To report a violation to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act 2017:
- Call: York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-512-6228 or
- Email: @email A York Region Tobacco and E-cigarette Control Officer will investigate the complaint.
Second and Third-Hand Smoke
Second and third-hand smoke cannot be eliminated by opening windows, using fans, air conditioners, or restricting smoking to certain areas. The only way to protect non-smokers is to create a smoke-free environment.
What is second-hand smoke?
Second-hand smoke is the combination of the smoke exhaled by the person smoking and the smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe. There are over 7,000 chemicals found in second-hand smoke and up to 70 are known to cause cancer. Second-hand smoke causes disease and death in both smokers and non-smokers. Exposure can cause lung cancer, heart and respiratory disease.
What is third-hand smoke?
Third-hand smoke is the chemicals in tobacco smoke left behind on surfaces. It is trapped in hair, skin, fabric, carpet, furniture and toys, hours or days after a cigarette is put out. It builds up over time and resists normal cleaning. Third-hand smoke is still being studied to determine its possible dangers. It is known that third-hand smoke contains cancer-causing materials. Infants, children and non-smoking adults may be at risk of tobacco related health problems when they inhale, ingest or touch substances containing third-hand smoke.
Protecting Yourself and Others
The effects of second and third-hand smoke on children
Children are especially vulnerable to second and third-hand smoke because their lungs and respiratory system are still developing. They breathe more frequently, which can cause them to absorb higher amounts of smoke than adults. Third-hand smoke becomes attached to dust particles, which can be swallowed by children when they put their hands in their mouth.
Infants take in 20 times more third-hand smoke than adults do. Infants and children who are exposed are at greater risk of developing colds and pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, ear infections, developmental and behavioural problems, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Protecting pets from tobacco
Tobacco smoke has been linked to certain cancers in dogs and cats, allergies in dogs, eye and skin diseases, and respiratory problems in birds.
Reduce your pets’ risk by:
- Not smoking around them, or exposing them to second-hand smoke
- Protecting against third-hand smoke by keeping your home and car smoke-free
- Preventing animals from swallowing cigarette butts which contain toxins
- Allowing the love for your pet to be motivation to quit smoking
Protect yourself and others from second and third-hand smoke
Support and follow the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which prohibits smoking and vaping in enclosed workplaces, enclosed public spaces and in motor vehicles when children under 16 are present. Also support and follow the outdoor smoke-free spaces bylaw in your community, including parks, playgrounds, recreation areas and beaches.
Protect yourself, your family and others from second and third-hand smoke:
- Stay away from places where people are smoking or usually smoke
- If you are not ready to quit smoking, cut down
- If you smoke, do so outdoors and choose a location away from entrances and windows
- Wear a jacket or a layer of clothing that can be removed after smoking
- Always wash your hands after smoking
- Do not smoke around pregnant women, infants, children or teenagers
- Do not smoke in your family car
- Opening a window, running a fan or air purifier, or smoking near the chimney will not get rid of second or third-hand smoke
- Report smoking in areas restricted by the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) and other tobacco-related violations by:
- Emailing @email
- Calling York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-512-6228
Smoke-Free and Vape-Free Playgrounds and Sporting Areas
Enhancements to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into effect on October 17, 2018. It is now illegal to smoke or vape on or within 20 metres of the perimeter of public playgrounds or publicly-owned sports field surfaces that host activities such as soccer, baseball, basketball, cricket, skating, swimming, skate-boarding and beach volleyball.
Report smoking or vaping in areas restricted by the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) and other tobacco-related violations by contacting:
- York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-512-6228
Smoke-free multi-unit housing
Multi-unit housing refers to buildings with multiple, single unit residences, such as condominiums, apartments and townhomes. Smoke-free multi-unit housing bans smoking anywhere inside the building, including within private units and on balconies. Such bans are created and enforced through landlord/tenant and condominium legislation.
Smoke-Free Ontario Act and multi-unit housing
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) prohibits smoking and vaping in common areas of multi-unit housing such as party rooms, lobby areas, elevators, enclosed parking and laundry facilities. York Region Public Health Tobacco Enforcement Officers may inspect and respond to complaints about smoking and vaping violations outlined within the SFOA.
Report smoking or vaping in areas restricted by the SFOA and other tobacco-related violations by contacting:
- York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-512-6228
The SFOA does not prohibit smoking or vaping inside individual units, on balconies and patios, or around building entrances. This means that people can be exposed to second-hand smoke in multi-unit housing due to drifting smoke from neighbouring units. In 2016, 14% of Ontario adults (aged 18 years and older) living in multi-unit housing were exposed to second- hand smoke drifting between units at least once in the past month. (Source: CAMH Monitor, 2016).
The demand for smoke-free homes is on the rise. 82% of Ontario adults believed that smoking should not be allowed in multi-unit housing (Source: Ontario Tobacco Monitoring Report 2018).
Benefits of smoke-free multi-unit housing
Benefits of smoke-free multi-unit housing include:
- A healthier indoor environment for tenants and staff
- Fewer second-hand smoke complaints
- Lower risk of fire
- Reduced cost of turning over a unit for housing providers
Resources are available to develop a smoke-free policy for your multi-unit housing.
Contact York Region Public Health’s Tobacco-free Living Services at @email.
Creating a smoke-free workplace
Workplaces are encouraged to support their staff in smoking cessation. By supporting smoking cessation, employers are taking care of their most valuable resource – their employees. Other benefits include:
- Improved employee health
- Reduced business costs
- Increased productivity
- Improved corporate image
- Enhanced job satisfaction
- Compliance with legislation
Promoting smoking cessation in the workplace
Smoking cessation in the workplace includes a comprehensive and facilitated approach as well as education and information.
The activities in a good workplace smoking strategy include health plan design, smoking policies and workplace-based smoking initiatives. The “Good Business… better health” guide (Document under review), outlines a step-by-step approach to achieving a successful workplace smoking cessation strategy.
Tools found in the guide can be adapted for your workplace and printed for your use.
- A sample smoke-free outdoor policy template (page 13)
- An employee needs assessment: Smoking cessation in the workplace survey (page 22)
- A checklist for assessing smoking cessation programs (page 25)
- York Region Public Health - Substance Use Resources
- Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care –Where you can’t smoke or vape in Ontario
- Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Fact Sheet - How the SFOA Affects Restaurants and Bars Including Patios (French)
- Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Fact Sheet - How the SFOA Affects Waterpipe Use in Enclosed Public Places, Enclosed Workplaces and Other Places or Areas (French)
- Health Canada- Make your home and car smoke-free: A guide to protecting your family from second-hand smoke
- Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care –Smoke-free Ontario Act
- Best Start- A Smoke-free Environment for Children