How the Act Affects You

TobacconistsTobacconists

Issued: February 2008
PDF Version PDF document [ 52 Kb / 4 pages | Download Adobe Reader ]

Dividing Line

The Basics

  • The Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into force on May 31, 2006.
  • The act prohibits smoking in enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places in Ontario in order to protect workers and the public from the hazards of second-hand smoke.
  • The act has a display ban for tobacco products that will be fully in effect as of May 31, 2008. Its goal is to prevent young persons from beginning to smoke and to assist those who have quit to remain smoke-free.

Tobacconists

Since the Ministry of Health Promotion recognizes that some businesses primarily sell specialty tobacco products that are not attractive to youth, an exemption to the retail display ban has been created for tobacconists.

Retailer Display Ban

What’s New

Restrictions on Displaying, Handling and Promoting Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

Effective May 31, 2008, there are new restrictions on how tobacco products can be displayed, handled and promoted in a retail store. These are new rules that need to be reviewed carefully.

Display

No tobacco products may be displayed in a retail store. This means:

  • Tobacco products must be stored in a way that prohibits consumers from seeing them before they are purchased. Customers are not allowed to handle cigarettes or other tobacco products before they purchase them.
  • Store owners must ensure that tobacco products are not displayed to a potential consumer while re-stocking, conducting inventory checks or any other process that may require the storage device to be opened and tobacco products viewed.
  • The brief time when a seller opens and closes the storage device and transfers the product to a customer is not considered a “display” under section 3.1(2) of the Act.
  • Important: Any intentional or unintentional action to display tobacco products in the storage device could be subject to a charge under the Act.

Acceptable Storage

Examples of acceptable tobacco product storage and dispensing systems include:

  • Overhead containers that ensure tobacco products are only visible to the clerk;
  • Below-the-counter drawers or cabinets that ensure tobacco products are only visible to the clerk;
  • Single package dispensing, gravity-fed devices;
  • Retrofit devices that cover shelves with a top-hinge “flip up” cover that close automatically or immediately by gravity. These must be no larger than 30.5 cm (or one foot) in height by 61 cm (2 feet) in length, and must open one at a time;
  • Slim drawers that open in sections and expose only the spine of cigarette packages;
  • On-the-counter devices and rotating trays of tobacco products only visible to the clerk.

Unacceptable Storage

Examples of unacceptable tobacco product storage and dispensing systems include:

  • Garage door style covers which open to display the whole or a large portion of the stock of tobacco products;
  • Large cupboards which open to permit the consumer to view the display of larger quantities of tobacco products;
  • Retrofit devices that cover shelves with a bottom hinge “flip down” cover that does not close automatically and would remain open unless lifted back into a closed position;
  • Curtains or blinds;
  • Horizontal sliding doors such as closet doors.

Small tags are permitted on the outside of tobacco product storage devices in order to help a clerk locate the particular tobacco product(s) contained in each storage device. Price information is not permitted on these identification tags. The tags must:

  • Use black type on a white background
  • Use letters up to 14 point type size
  • Not use logos or colour
  • Not be larger than 2" x 1" (5 cm x 2.5 cm)

Restrictions on the Promotion of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

Any kind of promotional material that reflects a particular brand of tobacco product is prohibited. Examples of prohibited displays are:

  • Decorative panels and backdrops that feature particular brands of tobacco products
  • Backlit or illuminated panels
  • Promotional lighting
  • Three-dimensional exhibits

Signs referring to the sale of tobacco products are permitted only to inform customers that a retailer sells tobacco products and the product price. Further:

  • The size of the sign cannot exceed 968 square centimetres
  • Signs must use black text against a white background
  • The text of a sign must not be visible from outside the retail establishment
  • A retailer may post a maximum of three signs referring to tobacco products and/or tobacco product accessories
  • Signs must not identify a brand of tobacco or tobacco-related product

The display of tobacco product accessories such as humidors, pipes, cigarette holders, cigar clips and matches is permissible as long as there is no association with tobacco products and/or brands of tobacco products.

How do I register as a Tobacconist?

Applications for registering as a Tobacconist are available at the Ministry of Health Promotion website.

Responsibilities of Proprietors who are Registered Tobacconists

All proprietors of tobacconist retail stores must comply fully with the act and regulation. This includes:

  • Allowing customers to enter the establishment only from outdoors or indoor common areas. This means that customers cannot enter the Tobacconist retail store from another store.
  • The Tobacconist retail store must not be a thoroughfare. For example, this means a person cannot enter the store from outdoors to pass through to access an indoor common area such as a mall. 
  • Not permitting a person who is less than 19 years old from entering a Tobacconist retail store unless the person is accompanied by somebody who is at least 19. If a person appears to be less than 25 years old, the Tobacconist must request identification and be satisfied that the person is at least 19 years old.

My store acts as a cigar lounge for my customers. Will my customers still be allowed to smoke their cigars in my store?

As a Tobacconist premise is considered an “enclosed public place” under the Smoke Free Ontario Act, smoking  is prohibited.

Restrictions on the Promotion of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

Any kind of promotional material that reflects a particular brand of tobacco product is prohibited.
Some examples of prohibited displays are:

  • Decorative panels and backdrops associated with particular brands (often referred to as “power walls”)
  • Backlit or illuminated panels
  • Promotional lighting
  • Three-dimensional exhibits

Signs referring to sale of tobacco products are permitted only to inform customers that a retailer sells tobacco products and the product price. Further:

  • The size of the sign cannot exceed 968 square centimeters.
  • Sales signs must be black text and white background.
  • The text of a sign must not be visible from outside the retail establishment.
  • A retailer may post a maximum of three signs referring to tobacco products and/or tobacco product accessories.
  • Signs must not identify a brand of tobacco or tobacco-related product.

Required Signs
All retailers must post No Smoking signs at all entrances, exits, washrooms, and other appropriate locations in order to ensure that everyone knows that smoking is prohibited. Further, retailers of tobacco products must post where it is clearly visible to the purchaser at the point of sale:

  • an Age Restriction and Health Warning sign.
  • a Government I.D. sign.

For information on acquiring required signage, please contact your local public health unit.

Enforcement

Local public health units will carry out inspections and investigations in tobacconist retail outlets in order to enforce the act.

Penalties

An individual could be subject to a maximum fine of $4,000 for a first offence and $100,000 for a third offence  or more. A corporation could be subject to a maximum fine of $10,000 for a first offence and $150,000 for a third offence or more.

This fact sheet is intended as a quick reference only. For more information, please contact your local public health unit.

You may also obtain information by calling toll-free:

  • INFOline 1-866-396-1760
  • TTY 1-800-387-5559

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm

For more information on the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website: Ontario.ca/smokefree.

February 2008