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HKPR District Health Unit Reinforces Smoke-Free Ontario Act in Outdoor Public Spaces

Sport fields, playgrounds and splashpads are examples of outdoor public spaces prohibiting smoking.

PORT HOPE, ON (July 10, 2023) – The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) would like to remind the public that under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA), 2017, tobacco products, vapour products and cannabis (both medical and non-medical) are prohibited around outdoor grounds of recreational facilities, school grounds and restaurants or bar patios.

The Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA), 2017 protects people from harmful exposure to second-hand smoke in all enclosed public places, workplaces, limits smoking in many outdoor public places, and makes it more difficult for young people to purchase tobacco. As of October 17, 2018, it is illegal to smoke cannabis and vape in any place that smoking tobacco is prohibited.

Public Health is responsible for education and enforcement of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and will conduct inspections of public places and workplaces with Tobacco Control Officers. Between January and May 2023, 719 inspections were conducted and 270 warnings were issued. Along with World Health No Tobacco Day, the HKPR District Health Unit works to inform the public on harmful uses of tobacco and to encourage everyone to claim their right to health and healthy living to protect future generations.

There are many benefits to smoke-free public spaces, including:

  • Reducing the health risks of second-hand smoke exposure.
  • De-normalizing tobacco use.
  • Creating a healthier environment.

“We have been receiving complaints in regard to smoking around soccer and baseball fields and would like to remind everyone, particularly with athletes and spectators, that sport fields must be smoke-free,” said Robert Hewitt, Tobacco Control Officer for the HKPR District Health Unit. “Also, with the many beaches within our communities opening this is also a great reminder that the same is true for playgrounds and splashpads. We simply cannot be smoking where children and families are often gathered.”

In addition, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits the smoking of tobacco, cannabis, and vaping in the following areas:

  • The outdoor grounds of community recreational facilities and the areas within 20 metres of the perimeter.
  • Public areas within 20 metres of the perimeter of the grounds of a school.
  • Public areas within 9 metres of a restaurant or bar patio.

“We know that nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain, which keeps developing until around the age of 25,” said Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health, and Chief Executive Officer for the HKPR District Health Unit.  “Nicotine is highly addictive whether it’s contained within a cigarette, e-cigarette, or other tobacco products. In young people, just 5 mg of nicotine a day is enough to establish addiction. Please adhere to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and do not smoke any products around our youth and keep our public spaces safe for all.”

The Province of Ontario passed the Smoke-Free Ontario Act in 2017 (SFOA, 2017). For more information, please visit our Smoke-Free Ontario Act webpage.


Media Contacts:

Ashley Beaulac, Communication Services Manager, HKPR District Health Unit,, 1-866-888-4577 x 1212 or Robert Hewitt, Tobacco Control Officer, HKPR District Health Unit,, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2228.

About the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit provides important public health programs and services to residents in Northumberland County, Haliburton County, and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Our dedicated team of public health professionals, led by our Medical Officer of Health, promote healthy living, protect against disease, and prevent illness and injury. We work with health care providers and community partners to address emerging health issues, service gaps and social inequities to support residents in being well and reaching their full potential. Our values of trust, engagement, accountability, and leadership guide what we do every day. Learn more at

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