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Ministry of Health

Your Community

The Tobacco Control Act sets a minimum standard that all facilities in your community must meet. Your municipality, health authority, post-secondary institution, or community centre may have more restrictive requirements in place. Check with those authorities for more information.

Frequently asked questions:

Where are tobacco and tobacco products not sold?
Tobacco and tobacco products cannot be sold at the following locations:

  • public hospitals or other health authority sites;
  • public post-secondary campuses;
  • in any building that is owned or leased by the provincial government or a Crown agency;
  • in any building owned or leased by your local government for athletic or recreational purposes, such as a community recreational facility.

Can pharmacies sell tobacco?
Yes, pharmacies can continue to sell tobacco if they are located on private property, because they do not meet the definition of a health care service. However, many pharmacies have voluntarily decided not to sell tobacco; others sell tobacco but encourage pharmacists to provide cessation advice to those interested in quitting.

Where is smoking banned?

  • Smoking is not permitted in any fully or substantially enclosed public place or workplace.
  • Smoking is not permitted within 3 metres of most public or workplace doorways, open windows, or air intakes (i.e. a “buffer zone”).
  • Substantially enclosed transit shelters are smoke-free.
  • Common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums and dormitories are smoke-free.
  • Tobacco use of any kind, including smoking, is banned on all public and private K-12 school grounds.
  • In motor vehicles when youth under 16 years of age are present.

Where can residents of community living facilities smoke?
Residents or persons in care of facilities licensed or registered under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, and patients in extended care facilities or private hospitals (refer to Sec 1 and Part 2 of the Hospital Act) can smoke in designated smoking rooms if one is provided. Staff and visitors cannot smoke in these rooms.

Can staff smoke outside a community care facility?
Under the Residential Care Regulation staff can not smoke on the premises of community care facility or while supervising persons in care.

Can I smoke in my vehicle?
There are two situations when smoking is not allowed in a vehicle:

  1. When it’s your work vehicle: under the Tobacco Control Act, smoking is banned inside all workplaces - and if are using a work vehicle, then it is a workplace and you cannot smoke inside it even if you are the sole occupant.
  2. When someone under the age of 16 is in your vehicle:  it is a violation of the Motor Vehicle Act to smoke in any vehicle when youth under 16 are present.

Can I smoke in my home?
Smoking is restricted in your home when it is another person’s place of work. If workers or service providers, such as homecare workers and trades people, come to work inside your home, WorkSafeBC advises that smoking stop 1 hour before they arrive.

If you live in a multi-unit building, like an apartment, condominium or townhouse, there are two issues to keep in mind:

  1. You cannot smoke within 3 metres of the doorways, open windows or air intakes that are connected to common areas.  Some examples of common areas are the lobby, laundry area or hallways.
  2. Your property may have a non-smoking policy or a lease agreement that further restricts smoking.  Because of the hazards associated with second-hand smoke, many buildings are bringing in smoke-free policies - for more information on how to make your home smoke free, please see http://www.smokefreehousingbc.ca/

For more information, see the BC HealthFile “Drifting Second-hand Smoke in Multi-unit Dwellings.”

Can I smoke in my hotel room?
You can smoke in your hotel room; however, many hotels have  designated some or all rooms as non-smoking so you may wish to check with management.
You cannot smoke in the common areas of hotels such as lobbies, hallways, and restaurants. You cannot smoke within 3 metres of most doorways open windows or air intakes around the hotel.

Is smoking banned on outdoor patios of restaurants?
In general, smoking can occur on hospitality patios, provided that a) the door between the patio and building remains closed except when entering or exiting the patio and the windows and air intakes between the patio and building remain closed; and b) .the patio is not “fully or substantially enclosed.” If the patio is fully or substantially enclosed, smoking is not permitted.

However, landlords or municipalities can implement more stringent restrictions and those restrictions will apply. Many municipalities have banned smoking on patios of restaurants and bars.

Are there exemptions to the ban on smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed public or workplaces?
There are two situations where the ban on smoking does not apply:

  • Residents or persons in care of facilities licensed or registered under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, and patients in extended care facilities or private hospitals (refer to Sec 1 and Part 2 of the Hospital Act) will be able to smoke in designated smoking rooms (but staff and visitors will not be able to smoke there).
  • Hotel rooms, but not the common areas of hotels (hotels may also designate hotel rooms as smoke-free rooms).

Where local governments or health authorities have more stringent restrictions in place for care facilities, those restrictions will apply.

Are legions, casinos, bingo halls or private clubs exempted from the smoking ban?
These establishments are not exempt from the smoking ban. Prohibiting smoking provides a level playing field with other hospitality establishments in our province and protects people from the hazards of second-hand smoke.

Where does the “buffer zone” apply?
The 3 metre buffer zone applies to most public places and work places, such as shopping malls, libraries, and office buildings. The area around most doorways, open windows, and all air intakes cannot be used as an area to smoke. This protects against smoke entering the building, and protects people as they enter or exit the building.

The buffer zone does not apply to hospitality sector patios where smoking can occur, provided that the door between the patio and building remains closed except when entering or exiting the patio; and provided the windows and air intakes between the patio and building remain closed at all times.

Are transit shelters smoke-free?
Substantially enclosed transit shelters are smoke-free, but bus stops (without a sheltered area) are not smoke-free.

Are business owners responsible for enforcing the “buffer zone” outside their doorway, when the door opens onto public property, such as public sidewalks?
Business owners are required to take reasonable steps to prevent people from smoking on their property within the 3 metre buffer zone. They are not required to enforce the law on public property such as sidewalks, unless the person is within the control of the owner (such as a customer or patron) or is their employee.

How does the smoking ban affect hookah bars?
Hookah bars are not allowed to use tobacco or tobacco blends within enclosed or substantially enclosed areas.  However, please check with your local government as some do ban the use of products like hookah pipes completely, regardless of whether or not they burn tobacco.

What are the rules for local retail stores that sell tobacco?
Tobacco retailers cannot display or promote tobacco where minors have access. In addition, promotion of tobacco is not permitted inside stores, except in very limited ways. For further information, see About Tobacco Sales, Display and Promotion.