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Protection from second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes and medical marijuana in Ontario

go-far-e-cigarette_651-400On March 10, 2016, the Ontario government proposed amendments to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, the Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2015 and its regulations (Ontario Regulation 48/06 and Ontario Regulation 337/15), in relation to the public use of e-cigarettes and medical marijuana, that would have a variety of impacts on the public, businesses and employers in Ontario.


Concerns have been raised about the potential negative health effect from exposure to e-cigarettes (vaping) and medical marijuana.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) look very similar to regular cigarettes. They are battery-operated and have cartridges with liquid chemicals in them. Heat from a battery powered atomizer turns the liquid chemicals into a vapour that is inhaled by the user (referred to as vaping).

As indicated by the government, medical marijuana is used by people who suffer from chronic pain and conditions such as multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, nausea during chemotherapy and migraines. In order to obtain marijuana for medical purposes, a person must have a medical document from a physician and obtain medical marijuana from a licensed producer. People can also consume medical marijuana using a vaporizer, which is considered an “e-cigarette” under the Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2015. While there are some laws that impact where a medical marijuana user may smoke, vape or ingest marijuana for medical purposes, such as the Liquor Licence Act and driving laws, they do not address the specific forms of smoking or vaping in public places.

Details about the amendments

If the proposed amendments pass, they would:

  • Expand “no smoking rules” to apply to medical marijuana.
  • Expand the definition of “e-cigarette” to include “e-substance.”
  • Prohibit the use of e-cigarettes and the smoking and vaping of medical marijuana in all enclosed public places, enclosed workplaces and other specified outdoor areas.
  • Expand the list of places where e-cigarettes are prohibited for sale.
  • Establish rules for the display and promotion of e-cigarettes in places where they are sold and prohibit the testing of e-cigarettes where they are sold.
  • Permit parents, guardians and caregivers to supply e-cigarettes to minors for medical marijuana purposes.

Public consultation and tabling of proposed legislation

A consultation on the proposed changes is being held and a discussion paper has been prepared to that effect. The ministry is interested in hearing from stakeholders about these impacts by April 24, 2016 (proposal number: 16-HLTC003) at 777 Bay Street, Suite 1903, 19th floor, Toronto, ON M7A 1S5, email:

In addition, Bill 178, Smoke-Free Ontario Amendment Act, 2016 was tabled on March 10, 2016, to amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to provide for prescribed products and substances, in addition to tobacco.

It is prohibited to smoke a prescribed product or substance, or hold a lighted prescribed product or substance, in enclosed workplaces, enclosed public places, and a number of other places and areas. An exception is made for research facilities. It is also prohibited to smoke a prescribed product or substance or have a lighted prescribed product or substance in a motor vehicle while another person who is less than 16 years old is present in the vehicle.”

Rules with regard to enforcement, employer and proprietor responsibilities and regulation-making powers are provided for in the Bill.

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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