A tobacconist is a business that primarily sells specialty tobacco products. Specialty tobacco products include cigars, pipes and humidors but does not include cigarettes. Under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA, 2017), tobacconists are required to be registered with their local Board of Health.

Complete the Tobacconist Application Form and send to sfoaapplications@toronto.ca to register with Toronto Public Health.

By submitting this application, the applicant agrees that at any time during the application process or following registration as a tobacconist, Toronto Public Health may request the applicant to submit any records on which this application was based, and on which continuing registration is based. Any misrepresentation made in an application may result in a decision to decline the application or revoke a registration.

If there is a change to any of the information provided on the Application for Registration as a Tobacconist, it must be reported to Toronto Public Health immediately.

Note: A change in address will require a new application to be submitted.

Review the Guidelines for Registration for help completing this application.

In order to demonstrate that your retail location satisfies the sales/inventory requirements, the Statement of Professional Accountant section of the application form must be completed by a certified professional accountant.

The accountant must certify as true and verifiable your proportion of total sales or inventory that are derived from specialty tobacco items.

The Statement of Accountant section must be completed and signed by a person who is a licensed professional accountant. This means that the person holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, or one of three legacy accounting designations:

  • Certified General Accountant (CGA)
  • Chartered Accountant (CA)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

In order to locate a licensed professional accountant who holds one of the above accounting designations, you may contact:

Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario
69 Bloor St. E., Toronto, ON  M4W 1B3
Phone: 1-800-387-0735
email: customerservice@cpaontario.ca

Sales and Inventory Criteria

To be eligible for registration as a Tobacconist, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • Businesses that have been operating for more than a year:
    • At least 85 per cent of the establishment’s total sales from the previous 12 months is from specialty tobacco products.
  • Businesses that have been operating for less than a year:
    • At least 85 per cent of the establishment’s total inventory purchases for the time it has been in existence consists of specialty tobacco products; or
    • At least 85 per cent of the total sales for the time it has been in existence consists of specialty tobacco products.
  • The remaining sales or inventory are from cigarettes or other items reasonably associated with a tobacco product or branded with the name of the tobacconist or a brand of tobacco.

If a tobacconist was previously registered with the Ministry of Health as of October 16, 2018, then the 85 per cent sales requirement described above does not apply. Instead the tobacconist must show that, at the time of registration with Toronto Public Health:

  • at least 85 per cent of the inventory in its possession consists of specialty tobacco products
  • the remaining inventory consists of cigarettes or other items reasonably associated with a tobacco product or branded with the name of the tobacconist or a brand of tobacco

For every 12 month period following registration with the board of health, the tobacconist must meet the sales requirement described above.

Additional Criteria

  • Minors (younger than age 19) shall not be permitted to enter the establishment. Exceptions to this include the store owner, employees, or a support person accompanying a person with a disability who is at least 19 years old.
  • Products and promotions cannot be visible from outside the establishment.
  • The establishment must be a building or located inside a building.
  • Customers can only enter the establishment from the outdoors or from the areas of an enclosed shopping mall that are:
    • open to the public
    • common to most of the retail establishments or other businesses within the mall
    • not part of the retail establishment or other business within the mall.
  • The establishment must not be a thoroughfare.

In other words, customers can enter the establishment only from the outdoors or from an indoor common area such as a mall concourse. This means that customers cannot enter the Tobacconist from another store.

The term “specialty tobacco products” includes tobacco products and tobacco product accessories, but does not include cigarettes within the meaning of the Tobacco Tax Act and the regulations under that Act.

Specialty Tobacco Products

  • Cigars
  • Pipe tobacco
  • Humidors
  • Lighters
  • Pipes
  • Heat-Not-Burn devices
  • Heat-Not-Burn tobacco (heat sticks or capsules)
  • Cigar clips
  • Snuff
  • Ashtrays

Other Acceptable Products (remaining sales/inventory up to 15%)

  • Cigarettes
  • Branded clothing or accessories
  • Branded water bottles or food items
  • Branded coffee cups
  • Carrying cases, such as tobacco cigarette tins

*Refer to the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act for additional restrictions on branded items

Under the regulation, activation of an electronic cigarette (i.e., turning it “on”) in a registered tobacconist is permitted, if the following conditions are met:

  • Activation is for the purpose of testing the electronic cigarette or demonstrating to customers how the device can be activated.
  • No vapour is inhaled or exhaled from the activated electronic cigarette.

Retailers that sell vapour products (including Heat-Not-Burn devices packaged without a tobacco component) may promote, but not display, vapour products, as long as the promotion complies with the restrictions set out in the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.

If a retailer wishes to display vapour products, they will need to register as a Specialty Vape Store.

A registered tobacconist is permitted to display and promote specialty tobacco products, including heat-not-burn products, if the following conditions are met:

  1. The specialty tobacco products and promotional material must not be visible from outside the place of business of the tobacconist at any time of day.
  2. The retailer must not permit someone under 19 years old to enter their store, except for the owner, 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.
  3. Customers can enter the store only from the outdoors or from the areas of an enclosed shopping mall that are:
    1. open to the public
    2. common to most of the retail establishments or other businesses within the mall
    3. not part of a retail establishment or other business within the mall.
  1. The place of business of the tobacconist must be a building or must be located within a building.
  2. The store cannot be a thoroughfare (e.g., passageway).

A tobacconist that fails to meet these conditions no longer has the benefit of the display and promotion exemption, and must comply with the prohibition on display and promotion.

Before selling tobacco or vapour products to anyone who appears to be less than 25 years old, a retailer must request identification and be satisfied that the person is at least 19 years old.

Acceptable identification must include a photograph of the person, the person’s date of birth, and reasonably appear to have been issued by a government or the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Some examples are:

  • Ontario driver’s license
  • Canadian passport
  • Canadian citizenship
  • Canadian Armed Forces identification card
  • Ontario photo card
  • Liquor Control Board of Ontario photo card

“No Smoking”, “No Vaping”, or dual signs must be posted at all store entrances, exits, and washrooms, in appropriate locations and 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:

There are several penalties that a retailer could face for violating the SFOA, 2017. Retailers are advised to review the Act to understand their responsibilities and the fines that may result from failing to comply.

Certain activities prohibited under the SFOA,2017 are categorized as tobacco sales offences. These include:

  • Selling or supplying tobacco to someone under the age of 19.
  • Failing to request identification from someone appearing to be less than 25.
  • Failing to post the mandatory signs.
  • Selling tobacco without the appropriate health warnings.
  • Selling tobacco in vending machines.
  • Participating in some activities relating to selling unmarked cigarettes under the Tobacco Tax Act.

If the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is notified that there are two or more convictions for tobacco sales offences committed in the same location within a five year period, 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.