Outdoor Spaces


Outdoor smoking by-laws and bans provide protection from exposure to tobacco. Research indicates that outdoor levels of tobacco smoke within one to two metres of a lit cigarette can be as high as indoors and that by-products of smoking are potentially harmful as well. Research surveys have consistently found that the public report exposure to secondhand smoke when outdoors.

By-laws and bans also play an important role in denormalizing smoking and limiting social smoking cues. In this way a smoke-free environment prevents smoking initiation, supports cessation attempts and prevents relapse among individuals who have quit.

The provincial government has implemented legislation, through amendments to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, to prevent smoking on playgrounds and public sports fields and surfaces, as well as on bar and restaurant patios. Over 100 municipalities in Ontario have also enacted by-laws that protect the public from exposure to second-hand smoke in various outdoor spaces, including pools, beaches, parks, hospital grounds, transit stops, stadiums and other sport facilities. Levels of support for outdoor smoke-free spaces will likely continue to increase as provincial legislation is further developed and more communities implement legislation.

Public health units are working to:

  • Increase awareness and engage local communities regarding tobacco-free environments
  • Build capacity in local organizations to advance tobacco-free spaces
  • Create and implement outdoor smoke-free by-laws
  • Evaluate and enforce tobacco-free by-laws

Key resources:

Recent research:

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