Vancouver | British Columbia

Health Bylaw No. 9535

This bylaw has been amended several times; the current version is consolidated to 26 July, 2016.

Smoking (the definition of which includes burning a cigarette or cigar, or burning any substance using a pipe, hookah pipe, lighted smoking device or electronic smoking device) is prohibited:

  • In any building (private residences & hotel/motel rooms exempt);
  • In a vehicle for hire;
  • On public transit including a school bus, passenger bus, ferry, or rapid transit;
  • In an enclosed or partially enclosed shelter where people wait to board a vehicle for hire or public transit;
  • Within 6 metres measured on the ground from a point directly below any point of any opening into any building including any door or window that opens or any air intake;
  • On or within 6 m of a customer service area (includes all patios regardless of whether or not they are covered by a roof); and
  • In a plaza identified in heavy black outline in Schedule “B” (Davie Village – Jim Deva Plaza).

The Board of Parks and Recreation is authorized to enact bylaws to regulate smoking in parks for the care, promotion and protection of the health of people in parks. This amendment, passed 22 June 2010, came into effect on 1 September 2010.

The latest addition to the bylaw prohibits the use of electronic smoking devices everywhere smoking is prohibited, as of October 1, 2014.

Vancouver’s smoke-free bylaw was legally challenged in 2014 under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by two café owners who claimed, among other things, that the bylaw violated their fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion. They claimed that waterpipe smoking is an important cultural and religious activity in their community, and that the bylaw was an infringement on their religious rights and those of their Muslim and Middle Eastern patrons. The case was ruled in favour of the City. The decision was appealed and heard in the BC Supreme Court in 2015, where it was dismissed. The judge rejected their arguments, noting:

  • Hookah smoking is not part of any religious ceremony and does not connect Muslims with the divine;
  • There is no evidence to support the defendants’ claim that their ability to operate their hookah cafés, that permit people to smoke for profit, is a function of their spiritual faith;
  • The bylaw does not prevent people from buying waterpipes or shisha to smoke in their own homes, at another person’s home, either alone or in a group setting; and
  • A ban on hookah smoking in public places and workplaces does not interfere with people’s ability to act in accordance with their religious beliefs

The above summary and the full judgment (see link below) will be of great use to other municipalities that want to prohibit the use of waterpipes.

Products Included

Cigarettes, Cigars, Pipes, Electronic Smoking Devices, Other Weeds and Substances, Waterpipes


“Burning” means to produce smoke, vapour or other substances that can be inhaled;

“Smoke” or “smoking” includes burning a cigarette or cigar, or burning any substance using a pipe, hookah pipe, lighted smoking device or electronic smoking device;

“Vapourize” or “vapourizing” means to inhale or exhale vapour produced by an electronic cigarette, electronic pipe, electronic hookah or other similar device that can be used to deliver nicotine or other substances.

Places Smoking Prohibited

Doorways, air intakes, operable windows
E-cigarettes (indoors)
E-cigarettes (outdoors)
Enclosed public places
Enclosed workplaces
Patios - Restaurants and Bars
Transit Shelters/Stops
Waterpipes (indoors)
Waterpipes (outdoors)

Buffer Zones

Doorways, Air Intakes and Operable Windows - Buffer Zone 1-10 m
Patios - Buffer Zone 1-10 m

Policy Analysis

This is leading edge because it specifically includes electronic smoking devices, waterpipes and other weeds and substances in its definition of smoking and addresses their use inside public places and workplaces.

Furthermore, it bans smoking on and within 6 m of restaurant and bar patios, as well as around doorways, air intakes and operable windows of all workplaces. However, 6 m is not a great enough distance to prevent smoke from entering a building, creating a nuisance or health hazard for people entering and exiting. At least 7 m is recommended based on outdoor SHS scientific research.


In Section 2.8 of the bylaw, it states that “Sections 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6 of this By-law do not apply to parks regulated by the Park Board Smoking Regulation By-law.” Having two different bylaws that are inconsistent in their approach may lead to confusion among the general public, thereby making enforcement more difficult.

Date Passed: October 2, 2007

Date in Force: October 2, 2007

Date Last Amended: October 1, 2014

Leading Edge: Yes

Level of Government: Municipal

Smoke-free Ontario Act Status: Exceeds Smoke-free Ontario Act

Bylaw Under Development? No

Supporting Information

Please find contact information related to this bylaw, and links to supporting materials.

Contact: or 604-873-7000

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