Smoke-Free Spaces and the Law


Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA, 2017) regulates the smoking and vaping of tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and cannabis to protect the health of the public, prevent people from starting to smoke or vape, and support quit attempts.

Find out how the SFOA, 2017 affects specific settings:

Workplaces - Lieux de travail clos

Community Recreational Facilities - Les installations de loisirs communautaires

Child Care Centres - Centres de garde d'enfants et services de garde en milieu familial

Government Buildings - Édifices et propriétés du gouvernement 

Hotels, Motels, and Inns - Hôtels, motels et auberges

Multi-Unit Dwellings - Habitations à logements multiples

Playgrounds - les terrains de jeu pour enfants

Enclosed Public Places - les lieux publics fermés

Residential Care Facilities - les établissements de soins en résidence

Restaurants and Bars - les bars et les restaurants (y compris les terrasses)

Schools - les écoles

Sporting Areas - les aires d’activités sportives


The SFOA, 2017 requires all workplaces and public places to post “No Smoking” and “No Vaping” signs at all entrances, exits, and washrooms of the smoke-free and vape-free areas. These signs are available at no cost. Signs can be ordered by calling the Health Unit toll-free at 1-800-563-2808, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For sample signs and more information from the Province of Ontario, please click here.

Retail Training

A guide for retailers of tobacco or vaping products is available.

Guide for retailers - Guide à l’intention des détaillants

 SFOA, 2017 - Retailer Resources

Flavoured Tobacco Factsheet - Produits du tabac aromatisés

Specialty Vape Store Factsheet - les boutiques spécialisées de vapotage

Specialty Vape Store Guidelines - Lignes directrices pour l’enregistrement en tant que boutique spécialisée de vapotage

Specialty Vape Store Application - Enregistrement de boutique spécialisée de vapotage

Tobacconistles marchands de tabac

Tobacco Retailer Permit Application - Demande de permis de détaillant de tabac

Tobacco and Vapour Products Retailers Factsheetles détaillants de produits du tabac et de vapotage


Tobacco Enforcement Officers conduct inspections, provide answers to questions, and handle complaints about the SFOA, 2017.
If you have any questions about the SFOA, 2017 or would like to make a complaint, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-800-563-2808.

Enforcement of the SFOA, 2017 On or Near School Property

What is the role of schools? 

Enforcement of the SFOA, 2017 on and near school property is governed by provincial standards and protocols, Health Unit policy and procedures, and in partnership with each school board and individual school administrators.

Schools use a progressive discipline approach when dealing with issues related to inappropriate student behaviour, including vaping or smoking on school property. Progressive discipline helps foster positive school climate by combining early and ongoing interventions to promote positive student behaviour.

Progressive discipline approaches may include interventions such as: assignments, services, student meeting(s) with school administrators, potential parental involvement, referral to counselling for cessation, addictions treatment and/or mental health, detention, suspension, or other.

Once a school has exhausted all internal progressive discipline and consultations in relation to ongoing SFOA, 2017 offences, the school administrator can involve the Health Unit via the Smoke-Free Ontario Act Notification Form (more info below) and work alongside the Health Unit on next steps.

What is the role of the Health Unit?

In partnership with school boards and individual school administrators, Tobacco Enforcement Officers enforce the SFOA, 2017 throughout the Health Unit region including on and near school property.

The Health Unit's Tobacco Enforcement Officers attend schools routinely in the districts of Nipissing and Parry Sound to ensure compliance with the SFOA, 2017 including compliance with smoking and vaping on or near school property (including smoking or vaping of cannabis), that smoke-free and vape-free signs are posted as required, and to assist school administrators and teachers in ensuring students do not have access to tobacco or vapour products from others.

When a school involves the Health Unit, the assigned Tobacco Enforcement Officer will follow-up with the school administrator to discuss education and enforcement options including:

  • issuing a formal warning in the event the Health Unit has not been involved with the student before and other factors including the age of the student and the determination of the school administrator that a warning is required; or
  • issuing a ticket (provincial offence notice) to the student due to the prior involvement of the Health Unit and other factors including involvement of other law enforcement agencies or willful and ongoing disobedience by the student.
The Tobacco Enforcement Officer will attend the school to meet with the school administrator and any staff person involved for a brief consultation prior to bringing in the student. The school administrator will remain for the meeting with the student. The Tobacco Enforcement Officer will formally identify themselves to the student, review the offence with the student ensuring the student understands the offence and the enforcement steps, answer any questions from the student and school administrator, and issue the warning or ticket to the student in the presence of the school administrator. 

How can I involve the Health Unit if an offence on school property has taken place? 

Contact the Health Unit by phone at 1-800-563-2808 or by email at You will be asked to complete a Smoke-Free Ontario Act Notification Form. This form requests basic information about the student, the offence, product(s) involved, and witnesses. It will be used by the Tobacco Enforcement Officer to connect with you to meet and determine next steps for the student (e.g., education, warning, ticket).  

What do I need to know about tickets (provincial offence notices)? 

A ticket, or provincial offence notice, is issued at the discretion of the Tobacco Enforcement Officer. The Tobacco Enforcement Officer will guide school staff through the process of completing a School Witness Report if a ticket is being issued. A high level of detail is required in the report to be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the offence took place if the case goes to court. For staff and school administrators completing the School Witness Report, you acknowledge that you will be called as a witness in the event of a trial. 

Young persons aged 12-15 are a defined category of offenders under Ontario's Provincial Offences Act and are not eligible to receive an out-of-court fine. If charged, they will be summonsed to court along with their parent/guardian. 

Content adapted with permission from Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit.

Smoke-Free Bylaws

For support on creating a smoke-free bylaw in your area, please contact the Health Unit.

Smoke-Free Housing

Make your home smoke-free by visiting the Smoke-Free Housing Ontario website. Here, you will find information, tools and resources to support you, whether you are a tenant, a landlordcondominium owner, or housing co-op member. Examples of what you will find include:

  • Laws and legal issues
  • Success stories
  • Surveys
  • Taking action
  • How-to guide

You may also be interested in the Lung Association's Steps to Make Your Home Smoke-Free.

North Bay

345 Oak Street West

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)