Legislation Comparison Chart

Tobacco Legislation Facts and Myths

There are many myths associated with banning smoking. From second-hand smoke to sales numbers to pollution. Get the real facts here.


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MYTH: The Smoke-Free Ontario Act has driven customers away from bars and pubs, and put many of those establishments out of business.


According to well-respected North American studies, smoke free policies do not adversely affect overall sales or employment in the hospitality industry. In some cases, they have had a positive impact.

For example:

  • Health Canada 1
    • A 2005 review of Canadian, U.S., and other international jurisdictions by Health Canada confirms that “evidence from the best quality studies consistently demonstrates that smoke-free legislation does not have a negative impact on the sales, revenues, profits and employment of restaurants, bars, hotels, and gaming facilities over the long term. The evidence presented here indicates that smoke-free legislation does not adversely affect the hospitality industry.”
  • City of Ottawa 2
    • A 2003 report indicated no negative impact on Ottawa restaurants and bars, after the city implemented a 100 per cent smoke-free workplace and public places by law, with no designated smoking rooms in 2001.
  • New York City 3
    • Since the implementation of a smoking ban in New York City in March 2003, several studies have shown no negative economic impact. The 2004 Zagat New York City Restaurant Survey of nearly 30,000 restaurant patrons showed that 23 percent were eating out more often because of the smoking bylaw. A one-year review of business tax receipts from bars and restaurants done by the City showed an increase of 8.7 per cent over 2003, and an employment increase of 2,800 during this period. 4
  • State of Massachusetts 5
    • A Harvard study in 2004 found no change in restaurant and bar patronage or employment after the state introduced a smoke-free workplace ban, with no designated smoking rooms. Meals sales tax receipts were unchanged (when adjusted for inflation) after the law was introduced, and alcoholic beverages excise tax collections remained stable.
  • State of California 6
    • After introducing a smoking ban in restaurants (1995) and bars (1998), tax revenue data found that revenues from both restaurants and bars increased after the legislation was put in place.

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MYTH: Designated smoking rooms were effective at blocking out second-hand smoke.


  • Designated smoking rooms (DSRs) were often not successful in preventing potential exposure to second-hand smoke. Recurrent problems include leakage of smoke through door openings, ceilings and other parts of rooms, as well as faulty ventilation.
  • DSRs don’t address the health risks to workers entering the room.
  • The new controlled smoking areas (CSAs), which are permitted in residential care facilities that apply and get approval from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, will have more effective guidelines to protect workers and the public from second-hand smoke.

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MYTH: Smokers are a cash-cow for the government because they contribute more through tobacco taxes than they cost the health care system.


  • The Government of Ontario’s main focus is reducing tobacco related disease and death in this province. Tobacco-related disease costs the Ontario health care system $1.6 billion a year. In addition, costs from lost productivity are estimated at $4.4 billion, due to tobacco-related disease, for a total cost of $6.0 billion.
  • Tobacco tax revenues were approximately $1.4 billion in 2005-06.

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MYTH:The Ontario Government failed to inform the public and businesses about its new anti-tobacco laws.


  • In 2003, the McGuinty government ran for election on a campaign pledge to ban smoking in 100 per cent of public places and workplaces. This is the commitment it is now delivering on.
  • The public was also invited to comment on Bill 164 (to create the new Smoke-Free Ontario Act) during committee hearings on April 21, 22, 28 and 29, 2005. During the regulation development process, targeted meetings with groups directly affected by the potential regulations were held in late November and early December 2005.
  • In addition, individuals and organizations that had previously made submissions during Bill 164 public hearings were invited to submit in writing their suggestions on regulations for the Smoke-Free Ontario Act by December 5, 2005.

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MYTH: Municipalities no longer need smoking by-laws, because the Smoke-Free Ontario Act replaces all of them.

  • FACT: The Smoke-Free Ontario Act establishes a minimum standard applicable across the province. Municipalities will still have the ability to pass more restrictive bylaws. Municipalities that already have more restrictive bylaws have the option of keeping these rules in force.

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MYTH #6:

MYTH: Having retailers remove displays, and moving the cigarettes behind the counter won’t make any difference.

FACT: Studies show that the more people are exposed to point-of-sale advertising and promotion of tobacco products, the more likely they are to buy tobacco. Youth are particularly susceptible to this advertising. 7

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MYTH: The Smoke-Free Ontario Act has hurt Ontario's tourism industry.

FACT: Studies from jurisdictions with smoke-free legislation show that there is no negative long-term economic impact after the introduction of smoke-free legislation. 8

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1 The Economic Impact of Smoke-Free Legislation on the Hospitality Industry (pdf) - 32 pages

2 The Economic Impact of a Smoke-Free Bylaw on Restaurant and Bar Sales in Ottawa, Canada (pdf) - 3 pages

3 The State of Smoke-Free New York City: A One-Year Review (pdf) - 7 pages

4 Zagat Restaurant Survey Provides More Evidence that New York City’s Smoke-Free Law Is Not Hurting Business

5 Economic effect of restaurant smoking restrictions on restaurant business in Massachusetts, 1992 to 1998 (pdf) - 6 pages

6 Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids - Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (pdf) - 3 pages

7 American for Nonsmokers' rights - Economic Impact of Smokefree Ordinances: An Overview