Frequently Asked Questions
Smoke-Free Places Act
Updated September 2009
Q: What is the purpose of the Smoke Free Places Act?
The primary purpose of the province’s Smoke Free Places Act is to protect Islanders from the harmful effects of second hand tobacco smoke. A secondary purpose of the Act is to reduce the overall consumption of tobacco products by those who smoke.
Q: What are the amendments to the Act?
The amendments proposed to the Smoke Free Places Act (or to the General Regulations made under the Act) include:
• Eliminating designated smoking rooms in public places and work places;
• Eliminating designated smoking areas on hospital grounds, with the exception of Hillsborough Hospital;
• Prohibiting smoking in vehicles with minors under the ages of 19 present;
• Prohibiting smoking on patios/decks of eating establishments and licensed establishments during certain hours of operation (Exemption between the hours of 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.);
• Provide exemptions that permit designated smoking rooms for residents in long-term care facilities (public and private) as well as shelters for victims of domestic violence.
Q: When will the amendments to the Smoke-free Places Act become law?
The changes will become law on the date of proclamation - September 15, 2009 at 12:00am.
Q: What changes have occurred since the original amendments were brought forward in the spring of 2008?
Amendments to the Act proposed one year ago were sent to the Standing Committee on Social Development who held public consultation on the proposed changes. The current amendments support most of the recommendations of the Standing Committee. Proposed amendments which have been removed from the new Bill include prohibition of designated smoking areas in long-term care facilities, prohibition of smoking in provincial parks as well as relaxing the prohibition of smoking on outdoor patios and decks to permit smoking during certain hours of operation.
Q: Why are these amendments necessary?
When PEI implemented the Smoke Free Places Act in 2003, it led the country in developing smoke free public places and workplaces. Now, the Act is six years old and needs to be modernized. PEI is currently the only province to allow Designated Smoking Rooms in public places, like bars and restaurants.
Q: How will these changes affect Islanders?
The proposed amendments would eliminate some of the existing exceptions to the Act that currently allow smoking in public places and workplaces, reducing Islanders’ exposure to second-hand smoke.
Q: Why restrict smoking in public places and workplaces?
This legislation is about protecting the health of the public and workers by reducing the exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Second-hand smoke is the leading cause of workplace death in Canada and the third largest cause of lung cancer. PEI has the highest rates of lung cancer in the country. It is estimated that tobacco kills 225 Islanders each year.Q: What is second-hand tobacco smoke?
Second-hand tobacco smoke is a mixture of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and smoke exhaled by a smoker. Non-smokers in a smoky bar for 2 hours will smoke the equivalent of 4 cigarettes.
Second-hand smoke contains over 53 carcinogenic chemicals and is responsible for an estimated 25 deaths in PEI a year and it costs an estimated $1.24 million a year in health costs and $5.5 million in lost productivity.
Q: How do the proposed changes compare to other provinces?
Smoking on Hospital Grounds:
• Smoking has already been prohibited by individual hospitals or health entities within Canada, such as the Capitol Health in Halifax, (which includes QEII and IWK), the Calgary Health Region and the Provincial Health Services Authority in British Columbia. PEI would be the first province to ban smoking provincially on all hospital grounds. This proposed amendment was supported by the Standing Committee report.
Smoking on Patios and Decks:
• A majority of the provinces have legislation restricting smoking on patios and decks of eating establishments.
Smoking in Vehicles:
• Nova Scotia, Ontario, Yukon and British Columbia have all passed legislation that prohibits smoking in vehicles when children are present. The city of Summerside recently adopted a motion to ban smoking in cars with minors present. This was also supported by the Standing Committee Report.
Designated Smoking Rooms:
• PEI is the only province that still permits Designated Smoking Rooms.
Q: What places are covered under the PEI Smoke-free Places Act?
This legislation applies to all public places and workplaces, including hospital grounds.
Q: Doesn’t this policy violate my right to smoke and personal choice?
No. There is no right to smoke enshrined in Canadian law. Canadians do have a right to a safe and secure environment and both science and law have established that any exposure to second-hand smoke is a hazard. Legal precedents clearly indicate that the office-in-charge of a community or institution has the authority to set smoking policy. An increasing number of Canadian municipalities, institutions and businesses are adopting smoke-free policies.
Q: How will the public be informed of these changes to the Act?
A copy of the amendments to the Smoke-free Places Act and regulations will be available from the government of PEI website at www.gov.pe.ca/smoke-free and Island Information Services. Also, a series of ads outlining key points of the legislation will be in Island newspapers and on Island radio stations. The toll-free number (1-800-958-6400) will continue to be maintained with a person to answer enquires during government working hours and a message service for the remaining hours.
Q: What can I do to prepare for the September 15, 2009 start of the Smoke-free Places Act?
• Inform your staff and customers about the coming changes related to the Smoke-free Places Act.
• Remove all ashtrays in areas that will be smoke-free. Post SMOKE-FREE signs in prominent places.
• Have information available for your workers and clients on the hazards of second-hand smoke (for materials check one of these websites www.gov.pe.ca/smoke-free; www.cancer.ca; www.lung.ca; www.heartandstroke.ca; or www.gosmokefree.ca).
• Show your support for the new legislation. Promote your business as smoke-free.
• Help your staff by letting them know what to say to customers or employees who want to smoke in areas that are not designated for smoking - for example: "I'm sorry, you'll have to put out your cigarette or smoke it outside or in the designated smoking area. This is a smoke-free environment in accordance with the Smoke-free Places Act"
Q: Who can I call if I have a question?
Please call the toll free number, 1-800-958-6400, if you have any questions about the legislation.
Q: Where can I smoke?
Employees, patients, volunteers, visitors and members of the general public who wish to smoke while at a hospital in PEI must leave the hospital property. Individuals who choose to smoke on property adjacent to hospital property are asked to be considerate of neighboring healthcare facilities, businesses and property owners by appropriately disposing of all materials used for smoking, including cigarette butts and matches. The Department of Health and hospital administration do not condone leaving the premises for smoking during breaks.
Q: Why can’t I smoke outside?
Any exposure to second-hand smoke, inside or outside, is a hazard. As a health care facility, the hospital supports healthy activities and prefers to set a positive example.
Q: Can I smoke in my car while parked on hospital property?
Employees are not allowed to smoke in vehicles parked on hospital property at any time.
Q: I don’t know where the hospital property begins and ends. How will I know I’m not smoking on hospital property?
Hospital security and administration will be able to provided information with respect to where their facility’s property begins and ends.
Q: If I leave hospital property to smoke and incur an injury or accident, will I be compensated under Worker’s Compensation?
If any employee leaves the premises to smoke, neither the Department of Health nor the hospital are responsible for any injuries or property damage. As with any injury, the worker has a right to file a claim with the Workers Compensation Board. The Worker’s Compensation Board will review the case and make its decision on the basis of the facts presented.
Q: If I see someone smoking on hospital property, what should I do?
Employees, patients, volunteers, visitors or members of the general public are not required to approach any individual. Advise security onsite that you have seen someone smoking on the hospital property. They will follow-up accordingly.
Q: How will the smoking policy be enforced?
Employees, patients, volunteers, visitors and members of the general public who violate this policy will be directed to appropriate smoking cessation supports.
All employees share the responsibility for adhering to the policy. Any problems should be brought to the attention of the appropriate supervisor or Human Resources and handled according to the corrective action procedures outlined in the policy manual. Human Resources will investigate and work with management to take appropriate corrective action, depending on the facts. Staff members who violate the policy repeatedly will face the standard progressive disciplinary action.
Designated Smoking Areas:
Q: Can I continue to use my Designated Smoking Room (DSR)?
No. The exemption which allowed for designated smoking rooms in public places and workplaces such as restaurants, bars, bingo halls, etc. has been removed. Smoking is not permitted in public places or workplaces with the exception of designated smoking rooms in long term care facilities and in shelters for victims of domestic violence.
Q: If I can’t have a DSR where can my clients and staff smoke?
An owner of a public place or workplace or an employer at a workplace may designate an outdoor area of the public place or workplace as a designated smoking area. The designated smoking area must be structurally separated from the indoor non-smoking area. The designated area must also be at least 4.5 m (15 ft) from any entrance to the indoor non-smoking area (except in the case of a patio) and 4.5 m (15 ft) from any outdoor air intake.
An outdoor area cannot be designated as a smoking area if it used as a day care centre, nursery school, kindergarten, elementary/intermediate/secondary school, hospital or a patio (except as permitted by the Act).
Q: How do the new amendments apply to my business's outdoor patio?
Prior to the new amendments the owner of a public place or workplace was able to designate a portion of an existing patio in a bar or restaurant as the designated smoking area without time restrictions. As of September 15, 2009 a patio may not be designated as a smoking area except between the hours of 10:00 p.m. through 3:00 a.m. the following day. The smoking portion of that patio must be 2.4m (8ft) from any entrance to the indoor non-smoking area and 4.5 m (15 ft) from any outdoor air intake.
Private Sector Community Care Facilities and Nursing Homes:
Q: How do the amendments to the Smoke-free Places Legislation impact private sector community care facilities and nursing homes?
Private sector community care facilities and nursing homes have fewer restrictions for smoking because residents live in these facilities full-time. For this reason, the owner of a long term care facility can designate a room in the long term care facility as a designated smoking area for residents of the facility.
Q: Are there requirements that must be met for a designated smoking area in a long term care facility?
Yes. The requirements are outlined in the legislation. The designated smoking area must be a fully enclosed room with a fan and direct vent exhaust system which prevents the movement of smoke from the smoking room into the non-smoking areas of the facility. The direct vent exhaust system must provide a ventilation rate of not less than 15 air changes per hour. The owner of the facility should contact the Department of Health prior to constructing a designated smoking area.
Q: What are the restrictions around my workers entering the DSR?
Employees cannot be obligated to enter a Designated Smoking Room (DSR). Owners or employers may permit an employee to enter a DSR only if the employee has volunteered to enter the DSR and even then the employee can spend no more than 20% of their work day or shift in the room. Also, employees may enter a DSR to respond to an emergency or if the room is free from second-hand smoke.
Employees of the long term care facility and members of the public are not permitted to smoke in a long term care facility’s designated smoking room.
Shelters for Victims of Domestic Violence:
Q: I operate a shelter for victims of domestic violence, are we permitted to have a designated smoking area in the facility?
Yes. The owner of a shelter for victims of domestic violence can designate a room in the facility as a designated smoking area for clients of the facility so long as the area meets the requirements of the legislation.
Dealing With Customers/Workers:
Q: What can I do to get my customers/workers to comply with the legislation?
Common sense usually prevails. Under this legislation smokers still are able to smoke in those areas where the Act and regulations permit smoking under the specified conditions.
As an owner/operator or employer you are responsible for informing your patrons/workers of the legislation requirements and ensuring compliance. If you see customers or employees smoking, you or your staff must ask them not to smoke in smoke-free areas. Educate your employees about the requirements under the amended Smoke-free Places Act, including what to say to customers. If customers continue to smoke after you have requested that they stop, you may choose to discontinue service or ask that they leave; act as you would if someone was disturbing your other customers in some other way.
If your staff express a desire to quit smoking, be supportive and let them know about the assistance available through the Smokers' Helpline at 1.877.513.5333.
Q: How will the public know that my premise is smoke-free?
All owners/employers will be required to post a sign at their entrances if they have gone smoke free or if they have a designated smoking area they must post signs indicating that smoking is not permitted outside the designated smoking area.
Q: Who is responsible for acquiring the signs?
The employer or owner is responsible for getting the appropriate signs for their premises.
Q: Where do I get the signs?
All inside signs are free and can be picked up at any Access PEI site. Employers are responsible for covering the cost of outside signs and they can place an order at a sign shop of their choice. Signs will also be available for downloading on the Smoke-Free Places website.
Compliance & Fines:
Q: Does the Act apply to private clubs, legions or service clubs?
Yes. The Smoke-free Places Act applies to all workplaces and if a private club, legion or service club has an employee then it is a workplace and must follow the provisions of this Act.
Q: Does the Act apply to private functions in community or church halls?
Yes. These are public places and workplaces so the Act applies.
Q: How does this legislation apply to doorways or entrances to buildings?
In the regulations, if you have designated an outdoor smoking area that is not a patio, it must be 4.5m (15ft) of any entrance to the indoor non-smoking areas and 4.5m (15ft) from any outdoor air intake for the indoor non-smoking areas of the place. If there is no outdoor designated smoking area, this Act does not apply.
Q: Who will enforce this legislation?
Environmental Health Officers, Occupational Health and Safety Officers and Liquor Control Inspectors will monitor compliance with this legislation. RCMP and police officers will ensure enforcement of the legislation as it pertains to smoking in vehicles. Hospital security and administrators will ensure compliance on their facility grounds.
Q: What are the fines for non-compliance?
Orders will be issued against owners/employers who do not comply with the provisions of the Smoke-free Places Act. An owner/employer who does not comply with the legislation or with an order that has been served by an inspector is guilty of an offense and the penalty for an offense ranges from $100 to $2000.
Q: What about smokers who do not comply?
This legislation does state that no person shall smoke in a public place or workplace except as provided for by this legislation and a smoker who does not comply with the Smoke-free Places Act can have an information laid against them and be taken to Provincial Offenses Court.
Q: I operate a hotel/motel in PEI does this legislation apply to my business?
Yes. The Smoke-free Places Act applies to all public places and workplaces. However, it was not intended that the scope of this legislation would extend to residences and the legislation is silent with respect to specific reference to hotel/motel guestrooms. However, if you have decided to permit smoking within the guestrooms of your hotel/motel, you are strongly encouraged to develop policies that minimize workers' exposure to second-hand smoke, such as ensuring that smoking has ceased in a guestroom for a time period before workers are required to enter. Air quality issues are also an occupational health and safety concern with the Workers Compensation Board.
As an operator or employer of a hotel/motel you may choose to go smoke-free or to designate an outdoor area on the grounds of the hotel/motel to which the applicable sections of the legislation would apply.
Q: I am a worker in a hotel/motel. Does the Smoke-free Places Act allow me to refuse to enter a guestroom where a patron has been smoking?
The Act has provisions which restrict workers' entry into designated smoking rooms (DSRs) but a guestroom in a hotel/motel where smoking has been permitted does not meet the definition of a DSR and so those restrictions do not apply. Hotel/motel employers are encouraged to minimize workers' exposure to second-hand smoke by allowing a period of time to pass before staff are required to enter the guestroom. The Occupational Health and Safety Act has provisions for refusal to do work that you consider to jeopardize your health or safety at your workplace.