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Schools & Child Care

Schools and smoke-free school environment

Creating smoke-free school environments

 The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA) was recently updated and expanded to regulate where smoking commercial tobacco, cannabis and the vaping of any product is prohibited. Under the Act all school property and an area 20 metres (the length of two school buses) around the property must be kept smoke, vape and cannabis free at all times. Creating smoke-free, vape-free school environments protects students, staff and visitors from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, promotes positive behaviours and supports the creation of a healthy school environment. The following action plan ideas are provided to help with promoting smoke-free, vape-free school environments. Include a selection of activities from each of the five sections below, or brainstorm ideas of your own:

  • Ensure that staff, students and families are aware of policies and/or codes of conduct related to tobacco, cannabis and vaping.
  • When selecting resources to support instruction, choose resources (e.g. books, websites, videos, etc.) that reinforce healthy decision-making concepts related to smoking and vaping.
  • Plan and participate in activities to raise awareness about substance use and addictions, such as World No Tobacco Day (May 31).
  • Take an asset-building approach to promote thriving behaviours and reduce risk-taking behaviours (such as substance use) among students, following the Developmental Assets framework.
  • Engage students in creating smoke and vape-free living messages.
  • Engage students in creating messages and activities for the school community. For example, try using the health unit’s Not An Experiment toolkit to promote smoke and vape-free living.
  • Post No Smoking, No Vaping school grounds outdoor signage (required by law) and supplied by the health unit. Contact the health unit if you require additional information or signs to promote smoke and vape-free grounds at your school.
  • Inform school community of the Ontario law that bans all tobacco, cannabis and vaping on school property.
  • Display posters in common areas related to smoking and vaping. Create your own or contact the health unit for additional resources.
  • Offer information and resources for students who want to quit smoking or vaping. Contact the health unit for support and resources.
  • Raise awareness about the risks of smoking and vaping amongst youth, and about community supports for youth and families through: newsletter inserts displays, bulletin boards, school website, etc.
  • Raise awareness within your local school community about the expansion of the smoke and vape-free areas under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017. The health unit can provide schools with signage, information and resources.  
  • Work in collaboration with tobacco enforcement officers from the health unit to ensure 100% smoke and vape-free school grounds.
  • Host assemblies with invited guest speakers.
  • Offer a parent education night to teach strategies for supporting youth with healthy decision-making (e.g. Triple P Parenting).
  • Community partners may also be available to assist int he development, planning, and implementation of Healthy Schools initiatives, and are a valuable asset to any Healthy Schools Committee. For more information about community partners, click on our Community Partners page.
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