Residents must be mindful of where they light up, as the region has a new smoking and vaping by-law in effect.
The new by-law adds on to rules under the Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017.
According to Maria Vasconcelos, the smoke-free enforcement coordinator with the Durham Region Health Department, the region took its old by-law and added some extra layers intended to protect the public and employees in workplaces.
“Areas that have hookah lounges and vape lounges will no longer be permitted to provide hookah smoking or vaping,” she says.
She adds this is one area where the region has exceeded provincial legislation.
The policy for smoking around public parks has also changed.
“The Smoke Free Ontario Act currently prohibits smoking and vaping in parks that have playgrounds and sports fields, so we’ve taken it a step further, and it will include all public parks,” Vasconcelos says.
She also notes people can no longer smoke or vape within nine metres of the entrance to a public place.
This includes tobacco, cannabis, and vape products.
Those who violate the new by-law will can face fines up to $5,000.
“We start at a ticket, which is the minimum $305, and then depending on the severity and how many times it’s happened, then it will go up. At the end of the day it’s dependent on what the justice of the peace decides,” she explains.
The health department will be teaming with local municipalities to educate the public on the new by-law.
“We’ve already reached out to our stakeholders before the by-law being passed,” explains Vasconcelos. “So, all the municipalities had been met with, and had discussed the by-law.”
She says right now the health department is trying to raise community awareness through the region’s website and social media platforms.
There will more advertising in the future that will focus on more specific sections of the by-law.