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Cutting Off Advertising by Big Tobacco

For almost a decade, the display of tobacco products in retail outlets such as convenience and grocery stores, gas stations, and snack bars has been banned under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA).

It is in addition to federal laws that ban most forms of tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Details can be found here.

Under the SFOA, all tobacco products must be kept out of site in retail settings. This cuts off a previously powerful advertising option for the tobacco industry. Not only does the ban keep tobacco out of mind for youth entering these premises, it also supports people trying to quit or stay quit. 

Retailers must ensure tobacco products cannot be seen for any more than a few seconds when a small door or drawer is opened to withdraw the product from storage.

Countertop displays of tobacco-related products or any kind of promotional materials that reflect a particular brand of tobacco product such as decorative panels, promotional lighting, or three-dimensional exhibits are prohibited.

Any signs referring to the sale of tobacco products or their prices are limited in size, colour, and a maximum of three per store. The text on a sign cannot be visible from outside the retail outlet.

The only exception to the retail display ban is at a tobacconist shop. A tobacconist shop is a retail store that only sells tobacco products and accessories. These specialty shops must have applied for tobacconist status and been approved as a registered tobacconist.

Tobacco Enforcement Officers from the health unit are responsible for inspecting retail outlets that sell tobacco. They also investigate complaints from the public.

Local residents are encouraged to report any concerns with retail outlets tobacco product displays, the sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 19, or smoking on the premises, by contacting Health Connection online or by calling 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act

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If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

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