Second-hand Smoke in Shared Housing

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking (tobacco and medical cannabis) and use of electronic cigarettes (including those containing medical cannabis) in common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums and college and university residences. Smoking and vaping is prohibited in the following areas in shared housing:

  • Elevators
  • Stairwells
  • Hallways
  • Parking garage
  • Laundry facilities
  • Lobby
  • Exercise facilities
  • Party or entertainment rooms

Owner responsibilities

Property owners are responsible for:

  • posting no-smoking and no-vaping signs
  • ensuring that common areas in their buildings are smoke and vape-free


Tobacco enforcement officers inspect shared housing and respond to complaints in these spaces. They can issue tickets for people who do not follow the law.

Why you should be concerned about smoking in your building

Smoke-free housing is about increasing options for smoke-free living, not denying smokers a place to live, evicting smokers from their homes or forcing people to quit smoking.  Property owners and landlords should be concerned about smoking in shared housing because:

  • Second-hand smoke costs money.  It costs two to three times more to turn over a unit where heavy smoking has occurred than a non-smoking unit does.  Often there are burn marks in carpets and countertops and stains from tobacco on the walls that require repainting.
  • An increasing number of people want smoke-free units.  The majority (about 80%) of Hamilton residents do not smoke, nor do they allow smoking in their homes.  Smoke-free units are more popular as an amenity.
  • Of a reduced risk of fire.  Smokers’ materials such as cigarettes are the primary source of fatal residential fires in Ontario.
  • It creates an unhealthy indoor environment.  Second-hand smoke contains more than 4, 000 chemicals and some cause cancer.

What you can do about smoking in your building

Here are some things you can do about smoking in your building:

  • Ask residents if they want a smoke-free building 
  • Develop a policy that will eventually make the entire building smoke-free
  • Have all new residents sign the standard lease for Ontario that includes a section outlining smoking rules in the building (required for all rentals after April 30, 2018)


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