Now that spring has arrived, many of us are once again enjoying or making plans to enjoy the outdoors, but sometimes taking your kids out to enjoy some important physical activity like playing soccer, baseball or even a swim at the local pool can put you and your family at risk from someone else’s second-hand smoke.
I want to take a few moments to remind families about some important changes to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) that will allow all of us to breathe a little easier.
The SFOA is provincial legislation that came into effect May, 2006. The Act sought to protect workers and children across Ontario from the dangers of second-hand smoke by prohibiting smoking in all enclosed workplaces, enclosed public places and in motor vehicles when children under 16 are present. The Act also banned the public display of tobacco products prior to purchase.
As of January 1, 2015, amendments to SFOA took major steps to ensure more people butt out in more places. It is now against the law to:
- smoke on and around children’s playgrounds and publicly owned sport fields and surfaces (e.g., areas for basketball, baseball, soccer, ice rinks, tennis courts, splash pads and swimming pools that are owned by a municipality, the province or a postsecondary education institution)
- sell tobacco on university and college campuses, and in schools and day nurseries
- smoke on all bar and restaurant patios, whether covered or not
As the Region’s Medical Officer of Health, I applaud the move to protect families and workers across the Halton from second-hand smoke. I am also very aware of the important role the Halton Region Health Department will need to play in enforcing this new legislation.
While voluntary compliance is our main objective, Tobacco Enforcement Officers /Health Inspectors from the Halton Region Health Department are responsible for enforcing the Smoke-Free Ontario Act by carrying out inspections, responding to complaints and laying charges and/or fining those who fail to follow the law.
If you are looking for more information about new SFOA regulations, I strongly encourage you and others in your family to visit the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care website.
Resources and other educational material that can help parents, business owners and others understand tobacco regulations, legislation and enforcement can be found on the Halton Region website.
We know successive smoke-free legislation in Ontario has significantly reduced tobacco use and lowered health risks to non-smokers everywhere. While we have come a long way, keeping Halton healthy also depends on you. If you see someone smoking where they shouldn’t or selling tobacco to minors, please dial 311 and report it.
Breathe easy and enjoy the outdoors with your family!
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.