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).

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

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 (SFOA, 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.

An employer includes an owner, manager or overseer of a workplace or job site who is responsible for, directly or indirectly, an employee.

Employers

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

Employees

An employee is:

  • a person who performs any work for, or supplies any services to, an employer
  • 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
  • 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

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:

Signage responsibilities

  • For individuals:
    • $2,000 for a first offence
    • $5,000 for a second offence
    • $10,000 for a third offence
    • $50,000 for 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 for four or more offences

Retaliation against an employee

  • For Individuals:
    • $4,000
  • For Corporations:
    • $10,000

Other responsibilities

  • For individuals:
    • $1,000 for a first offence
    • $5,000 for two or more offences
  • For corporations:
    • $100,000 for a first offence
    • $300,000 for two or more offences

Print the Enclosed Workplaces Fact Sheet.