Under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, any travelling in a vehicle carrying children under the age of 16 is banned from smoking or holding lighted tobacco products while children are present. The law is designed to protect children from the health hazard posed by breathing secondhand smoke. As of January 2016, using e-cigarettes in cars with kids is also banned.
- The law applies to both drivers and passengers of all types of vehicles.
- It is in effect whether or not the vehicle is moving or stopped and whether or not windows, a sunroof or doors are open.
- The fine for breaking the law is $125 plus $125 victim surcharge for a total cost to lawbreakers of $250.
Why the Law?
Children regularly exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer lung damage and breathing problems and have an increased risk of developing severe illnesses, such as asthma.i They are also at greater risk of developing:
- Bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections
- Worsening asthma symptoms
- Sudden Infant Death Syndromeii
- Middle ear infections
In-car concentrations of secondhand smoke are up to 27 times greater than in a smoker’s homeiii - and can be more than 20 times more toxic.iv
For more about the law, help to make your vehicle smoke free, or support to help you quit, check out the following links:
i Boulet, LP. Et al. “What is new since the last (1999) Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines?” Can REspir J Vol 8 Suppl A March/April 2001.
ii Ministry of Health Promotion Fact Sheet (2006). http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca/en/smoke-free/simv/factsheet.asp. Last accessed October 23, 2008
iii Ontario Medical Association position paper (2004). “Exposure to second-hand smoke: Are we protecting our children?”
iv Belanger, M. et al. “Nicotine dependence symptoms among young never-smokers exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke.” Addictive Behaviors. 33 (12), p.1557-1563, Dec 2008.