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Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses

When does the by-law come into effect?

Durham Region's Smoke-Free By-law comes into effect on June 1, 2004.

What does the by-law say?

The by-law prohibits smoking in public places and workplaces.

Under the by-law, a public place means any indoor area to which the public has access including (but not limited to):

  • eating establishments (restaurants, cafeterias, food courts and coffee shops).
  • bars, pubs, billiard halls, video arcades and bowling alleys.
  • recreational facilities, including arenas, swimming pools, theatres and auditoriums.
  • municipal buildings, including community centres and recreational facilities.
  • public transport vehicles, including buses, taxis and limousines.
  • schools, hospitals, health care facilities, nursing homes and retirement homes.

Under the by-law, a workplace means any enclosed, indoor area where an employee works. This includes all common areas such as washrooms, lobbies, parking garages and any vehicle where an employee works.

Why is there a Smoke-Free By-law?

The by-law was enacted to protect residents and workers within Durham Region from the serious health hazards associated with exposure to second-hand smoke.

Are designated smoking rooms allowed?

Bingo halls, racetracks and casinos are permitted to have a designated smoking room (DSR) that is no greater in size than 50% of the occupiable public space.

What is a designated smoking room (DSR)?

A designated smoking room (DSR) is a room where smoking is permitted. The DSR must be:

  • completely enclosed on all sides and not required by any person for a thoroughfare.
  • equipped with a separate ventilation system that maintains a minimum ventilation rate of 30 litres per second per person, based on maximum occupancy load, that is ventilated directly to the outside air and exhausted at a rate of at least 110% of supply, with any exhaust no less than 3 metres from any air intake or building opening.
  • no greater than 50% of the occupiable public space within the building.
  • approved by an inspector appointed by the Medical Officer of Health.

Are there any exemptions to the by-law?

A private club may allow smoking if it has no employees and if the general public is not allowed in the facility. The private club must therefore be for members only and have volunteer members serving them in order to allow smoking. Any facility that is a private club and rents or otherwise invites the public to its premises for a function must comply with the by-law and therefore not permit smoking while the general non-member public is on the premises.

Can a business be exempt from the by-law by becoming a private club?

No. The following criteria must be met in order for a premise to be considered a private club. It must:

  • be a not for profit corporate establishment.
  • operate only for the benefit and pleasure of its members.
  • direct publicity and advertising to its members only.
  • have by-laws regulating admission, conditions of membership, fees and dues, elections of a board of directors etc.

Is smoking permitted on outdoor patios at restaurants and bars?

Yes, as long as the outdoor patio is not enclosed. That is, not closed in by a roof/ceiling and walls.

What must owners/employers do to comply with the by-law?

Owners/employers have an important role in supporting the implementation of the by-law. As of June 1, 2004, owners/employers are required to:

  • post the required No Smoking signs, in plain sight, at each entrance.
  • prevent patrons and employees from smoking in prohibited areas.
  • remove all ashtrays.
  • prevent patrons and employees from placing ashtrays in prohibited areas.

Where can I get the required No Smoking signs?

No Smoking signs are available from Durham Region Health Department.

Who enforces the by-law?

Enforcement officers from Durham Region Health Department will enforce the by-law through ongoing inspections and in response to complaints from owners, employers, employees or the general public. Durham Regional Police also have the authority to enforce the by-law to keep the peace.

Who is charged for not complying with the by-law?

Owners/employers will be prosecuted for non-compliance with the by-law if they do not have the proper signs posted at each entrance to the building, or if they or their staff provide ashtrays for their patrons/employees. In cases where the owner/employer is allowing smoking by patrons/employees, the owner and/or staff will be charged. Patrons/employees will be fined for smoking in a premise that is clearly identified with No Smoking signs.

What are the fines for non-compliance with the by-law?

Non-compliance with the by-law carries a fine of up to $5000.

What can owners/employers do to ease the transition to being smoke-free?

They can:

  • start informing employees and patrons about the change coming on June 1, 2004.
  • train employees about the by-law including what to say to patrons and fellow employees who are smoking.
    For example: "I'm sorry, but the by-law prohibits smoking inside this bar/restaurant. Would you please put out the cigarette or go outside with it?"
  • ensure that No Smoking signs are posted appropriately and that ashtrays are removed by June 1, 2004.
  • display information about the by-law.
  • voluntarily go smoke-free before June 1, 2004.
  • provide employees with information and assistance to quit smoking.
  • designate and prepare specific outdoor smoking areas.
  • install a cigarette butt receptacle outside the building.
  • encourage staff and patrons to comply with Durham Region’s Smoke-Free By-law.

How can an establishment deal with patrons who refuse to comply with the by-law as of June 1, 2004?

Most people will comply with the by-law once they become aware of it. Others may need an explanation of the by-law before they co-operate. However, a few patrons may continue to smoke or refuse to go outside. The following tips may be useful to encourage compliance with the by-law. The owner may choose to:

  • explain that Durham Region’s Smoke-Free By-law prohibits smoking inside.
  • politely and calmly request that the person put out the cigarette or go outside to smoke.
  • discontinue service or ask the person to leave.
  • in the event of a refusal to comply, contact police at 905-579-1520 or 1-888-579-1520
    and request assistance to have patron removed.
  • If you wish to report the incident to Durham Region Health Department call the Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613 ext. 2188.

How can I get more information about the by-law?

For more information about the by-law, call Durham Region Health Department's Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613 ext. 2188.