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The Impact of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act on Property Owners

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into effect on May 31, 2006. The stated purpose of the Act is to prohibit smoking in all enclosed work places and enclosed public places across the Province. The Province has indicated that the goals of the legislation include the protection of workers and the public from exposure to second hand smoke. The Act does have an affect on how building owners operate their buildings.


An enclosed public place includes the inside of any place, building or structure that is covered by a roof and to which the public is ordinarily invited or permitted access, either expressly or by implication, whether or not a fee is charged. This would include indoor shopping malls, the lobbies of office buildings, retail shops, restaurants and places of entertainment. Smoking is prohibited in these public places.

The proprietor (person in charge) has certain duties. These include ensuring that the public is aware that smoking is prohibited, posting no smoking signs at all entrances and exits and other appropriate locations, ensuring there are no ashtrays or other similar equipment and ensuring that members of the public do not smoke in these areas.

Property owners should be aware that the prohibition does in fact extend to certain outside areas. Any public area with a roof where food or drink is served or sold or offered for consumption or a public area operated in conjunction with food or drink services is prescribed under the Act as being a place where smoking is prohibited. The obvious examples are restaurant and bar patios with roofs. A less obvious example is the outside area of a building cafeteria or a picnic table outside the door of a kitchen. These are prohibited places for smoking where the public is invited where there is a roof of any nature. Accordingly, an overhanging roof would result in this prohibition applying.

Where a public space is not part of a food or drink operation and not operated in conjunction with the food or drink operation, then the test is not whether or not there is a roof but whether or not there is a roof and more than two walls. Accordingly, an outside smoking shelter with two walls (but not more) can be constructed. However, to repeat, this smoking shelter cannot be operated in connection with a food or beverage operation (as no roof is permitted in these circumstances).

Bill Rowlands

October 19, 2006 in Other | Permalink

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