Housing co-operatives can prohibit smoking above and beyond the provisions of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Related to multi-unit dwellings, this Act prohibits smoking in enclosed common areas including parking garages. It is legal for a housing co-operative to amend its articles of incorporation or to pass a bylaw that limits smoking to certain areas or that prohibits smoking completely.

A smoking prohibition can include many variations, so it is important to clearly stipulate which areas will be designated as non-smoking. Examples include:

  • In private units only;
  • In private units including private use balconies or patios;
  • Within a certain distance (i.e. 9 m) from doorways, operable windows and air intakes;
  • In outdoor common areas such as patios, swimming pools, gardens, etc.;
  • On the entire co-operative property up to the property line.

Housing co-ops also have the choice to provide a designated outdoor smoking area if the size of the property allows it. Ideally, such an area would have a roof, somewhere to sit, somewhere to dispose of cigarette butts safely, and would be situated well away from outdoor common areas like pathways, patios, etc.

However, regardless of the extent to which a co-op chooses to prohibit smoking, the ban must comply with all relevant legislation, including the Co-operative Corporations Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

It is recommended that restrictions and prohibitions be reasonably connected to the purpose of protecting the health and/or comfort of non-smokers. Housing co-ops should seek legal advice before taking action. See our legal opinion section for more information, or go to tools to see a sample no-smoking policy.

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