In addition to the federal Tobacco Act, which regulates the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco, each province has its own set of laws that address, among other issues, smoking in public places. Provincial laws that restrict smoking in public places help non-smokers breathe easier; reduce overall smoking behaviour; generate increased public awareness about tobacco issues; and help to change social norms related to smoking.
The number of provinces and territories that are restricting smoking in public places continues to grow, as more and more Canadians are realizing that second-hand smoke - also known as passive smoke or environmental tobacco smoke - is too damaging to ignore. Exposure to second-hand smoke can cause health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and strokes.
Smoking is prohibited in all provincial government worksites and regulated in all public places, restaurants, bars, bingo halls, bowling alleys and casinos. Restaurant and bar owners in British Columbia may construct smoking rooms which do not have to be enclosed, and into which staff may volunteer to serve. However, several municipalities, mainly in the heavily populated Greater Vancouver area, have stronger bylaws that offer complete bans.
Alberta's Smoke-free Places Act, effective January 1, 2006, restricts smoking in any public place and workplace where minors are allowed. Casinos, bingo halls and bars are exempt from these restrictions. Stronger municipal bylaws have been put in place in municipalities such as Edmonton, Strathcona and Calgary and the following cities have a 100 per cent ban of smoking in public places: Peace River, Stettler, Wainwright, Drumheller, Olds, Airdrie, and Jasper.
The Tobacco Control Act bans smoking in enclosed public spaces, including restaurants, bars, private clubs, bingo halls, bowling alleys, casinos.
The Non-Smokers' Health Protection Act bans smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces including restaurants, bingo halls, bowling alleys and casinos. Group living facilities and designated hotel rooms are excluded.
The Smoke-free Ontario Act, prohibits smoking in all public places and workplaces across the province effective May 31, 2006. The Act also prohibits smoking in vehicles used for work, in reserved seating at open-air stadiums, and in underground parking. In addition, the Act gives shopkeepers until 2008 to remove large behind-the-counter displays of cigarettes.
Quebec's Tobacco Act institutes a 100 per cent smoke-free environment in all indoor public places effective May 31, 2006. The law eliminates all private designated smoking rooms by May 2008.
The New Brunswick Smoke-free Places Act prohibits smoking in indoor workplaces and enclosed public places including bingo halls, bowling alleys, casinos, restaurants, bars, and outdoor eating and drinking areas within restaurants and bars.
The Nova Scotia Smoke-free Places Act prohibits smoking in all provincial government work sites. The Act also restricts smoking in restaurants, bingo halls, and bars until 9 p.m. A province-wide smoking ban in all indoor public places and outdoor bars and patios will come into effect December 1, 2006.
The PEI Smoke-free Places Act bans smoking in virtually all public places, but allows hospitality venues to build enclosed, separately-ventilated smoking rooms. Food cannot be served in these rooms.
On July 1, 2005, Newfoundland's Smoke-free Environment Act (2002) was amended to ban smoking in all public places, including bars and bingo halls.
While the Yukon does not have any smoking bans in place, Whitehorse, with the bulk of the territory's population, banned smoking in most public places excepting enclosed and separately ventilated smoking rooms, and specified venues such as bars. The Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board in the Yukon is in the middle of a consultation process regarding a territorial regulation relating to smoking in the workplace.
The Workers' Compensation Board for the Northwest Territories banned smoking in all enclosed businesses and work sites in the territory - including bars - and only allows designated smoking rooms in worksites which are private residences. In March 2006, the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly passed Bill 16 that will amend the Tobacco Control Act and confirm those regulations set out by the territory's Workers' Compensation Board. The bill is expected to come into force in Fall 2006.
On May 1, 2004, Nunavut's Tobacco Control Act came into effect banning smoking in all enclosed businesses and work sites - including bars. The Act also bans smoking within a three-metre radius of entrances and exits, and within a 15-metre radius of school grounds.