A Tobacconist is a business registered with the local Board of Health that primarily sells specialty tobacco products. This includes tobacco products and accessories (e.g., cigars, pipes, humidors), but does not include cigarettes.
A retailer can register as a Tobacconist with the local Board of Health if the following criteria are met:
Applications for registration as a Tobacconist are available online or at the local Public Health Unit.
Under the SFOA, 2017 registered Tobacconists are permitted to display and promote specialty tobacco products, including heat-not-burn products containing tobacco as well as allow their customers to view and handle tobacco products before the point of purchase provided certain conditions are met including:
One business name sign may be posted on the exterior of the Tobacconist, but it must not contain additional promotional language (e.g., “Best cigars in town”, “Cigars sold here”).
No person under 19 years of age is permitted into the store, except for the owner of the store, an employee, or a support person accompanying an adult with a disability. A person who appears to be less than 25 years old is considered to be less than 19 years old unless they can provide proper identification.
a) The place of business of the store must be a building or must be located within a building.
b) Customers must be able to enter the place of business of the store only from the outdoors or from the areas of an enclosed shopping mall that are:
c) The store must not be a thoroughfare (e.g., passageway).
“No Smoking”, “No Vaping”, or dual signs must be posted at all store entrances, exits, and washrooms, in appropriate locations and in sufficient numbers, so that everyone knows that smoking and vaping is not permitted.
All stores selling tobacco products must post, in clear view of the customer at the point of sale:
Tobacconists selling vapour products (e.g., Heat-Not-Burn devices and components) at retail must post, in clear view of the seller and customer at the point of sale:
For information on where to get signs, please contact Toronto Public Health.
If a Tobacconist delivers products to their customers (e.g., through an online purchase), they are required to ensure that there is a process for verifying the age of any potential customer and that the recipient is at least 19 years of age. Please note that it is an offense under the SFOA, 2017 to sell or supply a tobacco or vapour product to anyone under the age of 19.
Tobacconists are advised to ensure that delivery agents (e.g., couriers) are aware of this requirement and consider indicating on the package that it can only be received by a person who is at least 19 years of age.
Local public health units will carry out inspections and respond to complaints regarding Tobacconist stores to enforce the SFOA, 2017.
There are several penalties that a Tobacconist could face for violating the SFOA, 2017. Tobacconists are advised to review the Act to understand their responsibilities, and the fines and other penalties that may result from failing to comply.
Certain activities prohibited under the SFOA, 2017 are categorized as tobacco sales offences. These include:
If the Ministry of Health becomes aware that there are, within a five-year period, two or more convictions against any owner for tobacco sales offences committed in the same location, even if the ownership has changed, that location will be subject to an automatic prohibition. This means that location could not sell or store any tobacco and no wholesaler or distributor may deliver tobacco to that location. An automatic prohibition lasts for six, nine or twelve months, depending on the number of convictions for tobacco sales offences that have taken place within the five-year period.
Tobacconists are advised to review the SFOA, 2017 to understand more about this penalty.
This page is intended as a quick reference only and should not be considered to be legal advice.
Print the Tobacconists Fact Sheet.