Smoke Free Ontario logo


Tobacco Retailers

NEW Restrictions on Flavoured Cigarillos and
Cigarillo Packaging – July 1st, 2010

Retail Display Ban

  • A complete ban of the retail display of cigarettes and tobacco products became effective on May 31, 2008
  • No cigarettes or tobacco products may be displayed before purchase
  • Retailers must not allow tobacco products to be displayed while restocking or doing inventory
  • Any action (intentional or unintentional) to display tobacco products in a storage device could be subject to a charge under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act

  • Acceptable storage and dispensing systems are:
    • Overhead containers that ensure tobacco products are only visible to the clerk;
    • Below-the-counter drawers or cabinets that ensure tobacco products are only visible to the clerk;
    • Single package dispensing, gravity-fed devices;
    • Retrofit devices that cover shelves with a top-hinge “flip up” cover that close automatically or immediately by gravity. These must be no larger than 30.5 cm (or one foot) in height by 61 cm (2 feet) in length, and must open one at a time;
    • Slim drawers that open in sections and expose only the spine of cigarette packages;
    • On-the-counter devices and rotating trays of tobacco products only visible to the clerk.

  • Unacceptable storage and dispensing systems for tobacco products detailed by the Ministry of Health Promotion are:
    • Garage door style covers which open to display the whole or a large portion of the stock of tobacco products;
    • Large cupboards which open to permit the consumer to view the display of larger quantities of tobacco products;
    • Retrofit devices that cover shelves with a bottom hinge “flip down” cover that does not close automatically and would remain open unless lifted back into a closed position;
    • Curtains or blinds;
    • Horizontal sliding doors such as closet doors.

Retailer Responsibilities

  • Tobacco vendors are required to request photo identification from anyone who appears to be less than 25 years old before selling cigarettes or tobacco products
  • Business owners will be vicariously liable if their employees sell tobacco to anyone less than 19 years old or appearing under 25 years old without photo identification
  • Customers are prohibited from viewing or handling cigarettes or tobacco products before purchasing them
  • The promotion of cigarettes and tobacco products through product association, product enhancement or promotional materials (e.g., decorative panels, promotional lighting or three-dimensional exhibits) is also prohibited

Smoke-Free Ontario Signage

“No smoking” signs must be posted at all entrances, exits, washrooms and other appropriate locations in order to ensure that everyone knows that smoking is prohibited within an enclosed public place or enclosed workplace.

All retailers of cigarettes and tobacco products must also post;

  • Government ID signs
  • Age Restriction and Health Warning signs

where it is clearly visible to the purchaser at the point of sale.

This page explains these signage requirements. 

You can get these FREE signs here. To download these signs, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion website. You can also call the Region of Peel – Public Health at 905-799-7700 for more information.


  • Peel Health Public Health Inspectors are responsible for enforcing the legislation
  • Public Health Inspectors conduct random spot checks at all tobacco retailers and enclosed workplaces and public places to ensure compliance with the legislation
  • Failure to comply with the requirements of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act may result in legal action (e.g. being charged and/or fined)
  • Employees who report non-compliant employers are legally protected from reprisal by their employers under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act

Fact Sheets

For more information on the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, please refer to the following fact sheets about NEW restrictions on flavoured Cigarillos and Cigarillo Packaging.

Please visit the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion website for these resources in other languages.

You can also visit the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion website for more information.