Skip to Main Content

Smoking laws by province

It was only relatively recently that Canada began creating laws to control sale, consumption, marketing, importation, and other aspects of tobacco production. As the negative health impacts became more widely known, the federal government passed a Tobacco Act in 1997, and the provinces soon followed suit.

The federal law imposes standards on the tobacco industry, but provincial rules sometimes go further. For example, the Tobacco Act says nobody under 18 can buy or be supplied with tobacco products, but some provinces have raised that age to 19.

It also bans tobacco advertising on TV and radio as well as in newspapers and magazines. It also mandated those large and graphic warnings that now appear on cigarette packages.

Provincial laws largely guide where and when you can consume tobacco as well as punishments for possession and illegal sales. Some provinces specify that their laws do not affect the rights of aboriginal peoples using tobacco for spiritual or ceremonial purposes.

Here are the laws by province:

British Columbia

Legal age: 19.

Anyone caught selling tobacco to minors faces a fine of up to $5,000. Stores could also be prohibited from further sales and must display a sign acknowledging it sold tobacco to minors.

Smoking is banned in any “fully or substantially enclosed public place or workplace.” This includes work vehicles.

Some pharmacies can sell tobacco.

Smoking is legal on outdoor patios that are not partially or fully enclosed.

Drivers cannot smoke with any passengers younger than 16.

http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/tobacco/communities.html#q8

Alberta

Legal age: 18.

Minors caught carrying or consuming tobacco products can be fined up to $100.

Smoking is prohibited in all public places and workplaces, including outdoor patios.

Smoking in a car with young passengers is not banned province-wide, but is punishable by a fine in some municipalities.

Alberta’s Tobacco Reduction Act: http://www.health.alberta.ca/initiatives/tobacco-reduction.html

Saskatchewan

Legal age: 18.

Retailers selling to minors face a maximum $3,000 fine for the first offence and up to $50,000 for a fourth violation.

Smoking banned in public areas and workplaces.

Some municipalities, including Saskatoon, have banned smoking on patios.

Drivers who smoke while with a passenger under 16 face a $220 fine.

http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/new-tobacco-laws

Manitoba

Legal age: 18.

Anyone selling to minors can be fined up to $3,000 on a first offence and $15,000 for a third.

Smoking is banned in all enclosed public spaces and indoor workplaces (including work vehicles). The ban doesn’t apply to reserve lands.

In 2013, the province banned pharmacies from selling tobacco.

Retailers cannot advertise or promote the sale of products.

Drivers with passengers under 16 cannot smoke in the car.

Ontario

Legal age: 19.

Retailers selling to minors face fines as high as $10,000 for a first offence and $150,000 for a third.

Smoking is banned in all public places and workplaces. Designated smoking rooms are only allowed in residential care facilities. There are strict laws for design, function and maintenance of smoking rooms. Violators can be fined up to $300.

Smoking on patios will be banned as of January 1, 2015.

No smoking in cars with passengers younger than 16.

As of January 1, 2016 it is illegal to sell or supply electronic cigarettes and their parts to anyone under 19 years of age.

Smoke-Free Ontario

Quebec

Legal age: 18.

Any retailer selling to minors faces a $2,000 fine for a first offence plus a possible fine against the specific employee.

Smoking is banned in restaurants, bars, bingo halls, casinos, sports facilities, and most public places. Smoking in prohibited places can net a $300 fine for a first offence.

Smoking is still permitted on open-air patios.

Designated smoking rooms are permitted in certain facilities.

Quebec is the only province that allows drivers to smoke while children are in the car.

Quebec’s Tobacco Act: http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=2&file=/T_0_01/T0_01_A.html

Newfoundland and Labrador

Legal age: 19.

A retailer selling to minors can face fines of up to $5,000 and six months in jail for a first offence.

Smoking is banned in restaurants, bars, bingo halls, and indoor public places. Workplaces and group-living facilities can have designated smoking rooms.

Smoking is not permitted on patios.

No smoking in cars with passengers younger than 16.

NL Tobacco Control: http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/wellnesshealthyliving/tobaccocontrol.html

New Brunswick

Legal age: 19.

Smoking is banned in bars, restaurants, other enclosed public areas, indoor workplaces, and on school grounds. Group-living facilities can have separate smoking rooms.

Drivers cannot smoke if they carry passengers younger than 16.

The Smoke-Free Places Act: http://www.gnb.ca/legis/bill/editform-e.asp?ID=296&legi=55&num=1

Nova Scotia

Legal age: 19.

Selling to minors invites a $1,000 fine on a first offence and a seven-day ban from selling tobacco products.

Smoking is banned in workplaces and any enclosed public space, including bars, restaurants, stores, pool halls and bingo parlours. Smoking is not permitted on patios.

Designated smoking rooms are permissible in group-living facilities.

Drivers cannot smoke if there are passengers younger than 19.

Prince Edward Island

Legal age: 19.

Retailers caught selling to minors receive an official warning. If caught again within three months, they face a $250 fine and seven-day ban on tobacco sales, with penalties increasing for further offences.

Smoking is prohibited in most public places, although bars and restaurants can have designated smoking rooms.

Smoking is only permitted on patios between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.

No smoking in cars with passengers under 19.

FAQ about P.E.I.’s Smoke-Free Places Act: http://www.gov.pe.ca/health/index.php3?number=1020691&lang=E

Yukon

Legal age: 19

Smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces and workplaces. Smoking is not permitted on outdoor patios.

Group-living facilities can have designated smoking rooms.

Stores are not permitted to sell candy that resembles tobacco products, such as licorice pipes.

Drivers cannot smoke if they carry passengers younger than 18.

Yukon Smoke-free Places Act - FAQ

http://www.hss.gov.yk.ca/sfpa_faq.php#1

Nunavut

Legal age: 18.

A retailer selling to minors faces a $3,000 fine for a first offence ($9,000 for a corporation).

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories were the first jurisdictions to impose smoking bans in public places, although bars and restaurants are exempt. Workplaces are also smoke-free.

Northwest Territories:

Legal age: 18.

A retailer selling to minors faces a $3,000 fine for a first offence ($9,000 for a corporation).

Smoking is prohibited in bars, restaurants and enclosed public places, as well as outdoor transit shelters. 

Group homes can have designated smoking rooms.

The Tobacco Control Act: http://www.justice.gov.nt.ca/PDF/ACTS/Tobacco%20Control.pdf