Durham Region Health Department is launching a tobacco education and enforcement campaign to help local vendors better understand the important role they play in preventing youth access to tobacco and vapour products.

Restricting youth access to tobacco and vapour products is an integral part of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, and represents a comprehensive tobacco control program aimed at preventing children and youth from starting to use tobacco and vapour products. This campaign is being launched in collaboration with other central east health units in Ontario.

In Durham Region, tobacco enforcement officers have provincial authority to enforce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 to ensure that local businesses, public places, schools, and workplaces are following the requirements of the Act. This authority includes inspecting premises to ensure that tobacco and vapour product retailers are following advertising regulations, have proper signage posted, and that youth are not able to purchase tobacco or vapour products.

“We’ve seen a concerning increase in non-compliance with provincial requirements in a number of tobacco and vapour product retailers in Durham Region, especially in relation to selling vapour products to youth,” said Maria Vasconcelos, Smoke-Free Enforcement Coordinator with the Health Department. “While most vendors are doing their best to ensure compliance, we do continue to see a small number that persist in illegally selling vapour products to minors.

“Our goal is to both protect youth and achieve retailer compliance by eliminating the sale of vapour and commercial tobacco products to youth, including the sale of illegal products, and flavoured vape e-juices in Durham Region.”

From March to December 2022, Health Department tobacco enforcement officers completed a total of 732 youth access inspections across Durham Region. These inspections resulted in 85 charges – 55 for supplying vapes to minors and 30 for supplying tobacco to minors. During these inspections, tobacco enforcement officers also seized various illegal vapour products which resulted in over $6,000 in fines issued to owners and operators.

Health Department tobacco enforcement officers continue to conduct compliance inspections at tobacco and vapour product retailers to ensure vendors comply with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017. These inspections include (but are not limited to):

  • Ensuring that retail staff are trained on the legal age for sale of vapour and tobacco products.
  • Ensuring that retailers are not selling illegally flavoured or improperly packaged products.
  • Ensuring that retailers are compliant with indoor and outdoor advertising restrictions.

If a retailer is found to be non-compliant, the Health Department will work closely with the vendor to ensure they understand all requirements under the Act. If these requirements are not met, tobacco enforcement officers may proceed with enforcement measures.

For more information or to file a complaint related to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, please contact Durham Health Connection Line at 905-668-2020 or 1-800-841-2729, or visit durham.ca/health. For more information on inspection activities, please visit www.durham.ca/en/health-and-wellness/inspection-results.aspx.

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