Smoke-free Canada – no butts about it!

In recent years, the number of smokers in Canada has declined dramatically. Canadians¬†have become more health-conscious and many believe that smoking affects not only those who smoke but also those who are exposed to second and third-hand smoke from other people’s cigarettes, pipes, cigars and clothing.

In Canada, smoking is now generally considered socially unacceptable, and has been banned in most workplaces, and in public places such as federal buildings, restaurants, bars, bingo halls, billiard halls, bowling alleys, casinos and on outdoor patios.

The efforts of the Canadian Government and health activists have led to tightened restrictions on both the sale and the use of tobacco products, with retail behind-the-counter displays of tobacco being banned in 2009.  It is now illegal to sell tobacco products in hospitals, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, charitable institutions and in grocery stores that also have a pharmacy in the store.

In some provinces, smoking in prisons, indoor smoking and smoking at venues where children are present, such as parks and sports fields, has also been outlawed. Fines under the Tobacco Control Act for those caught smoking range from $5,000 to $25,000. Young people under 18 who are smoking or in possession of tobacco products can be fined $100 and have their cigarettes taken away.

More recently, several municipalities have outlawed smoking in vehicles carrying children. Smoking in many provinces is prohibited within 15 metres of schools and within 3 metres of building entrances; on public transport, and in bus shelters. Taxi cabs and work vehicles are also smoke-free.

If you are a smoker who will be relocating to Canada in the near future, you may find it helpful to be aware of some basic smoking etiquette in Canada.

  • When socialising with others in a home or establishment, or even outside, it is considered polite to ask if anyone minds before you light a cigarette, cigar or pipe.
  • It is considered extremely rude to start smoking in another person’s home or car without asking first. This includes smoking outside the person’s home (on their porch or front deck).
  • Disposing of cigarette ash, butts, matches, empty lighters and cigarette packages onto pavements, streets, landscaping, parking lots and beaches is considered extremely rude and also carries a fine in most provinces and territories.
  • Discarding a lit cigarette butt from a vehicle could incur a fine of $1,000. Many costly and hugely destructive forest fires have been started this way!

For those of you who choose to stop smoking when you arrive in Canada, the good news is that there are a wide variety of free smoking cessation programmes offered all across Canada. A good place to start is by contacting the Canadian Cancer Society or any of the Canadian provincial Lunch Associations for details of local programmes to help you quit!

One thought on “Smoke-free Canada – no butts about it!

  1. A good and accurate article. Here in Nova Scotia, like many other provinces, they have passed a law making it illegal for a vendor to display the cigarettes that are for sale. They must be hidden from view while a catalogue can show what is available. Almost everyone in the business complied when this came in about two years ago, all except one tobacconist in Kentville, Nova Scotia. It hit him hard because tobacco products are almost his entire business. He refused to comply, deliberately forcing the authorities to charge him. He was recently found guilty in the lower courts. Now the case is wending its way through the higher courts of appeal, perhaps on its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. He is arguing that the law violates his freedom of expression.

    As the article correctly states, attitudes towards smoking have changed here drastically. Compared to the U.K. this is one area that may come as a shock to smoking immigrants.

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