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Trucker fined for smoking in his truck; Did I call it or what?

Well, you knew it had to happen eventually. According to reports by the Canadian Press, an Ontario trucker has been fined for smoking in his rig. Apparently police pulled over the trucker and ticketed him $305 for smoking in the workplace, a violation of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. If the driver wasn’t fuming before, I bet he was after being handed the ticket.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act was passed in 2006, and I blogged about it at the time. In what turned out to be somewhat prophetic, I wrote the following in my blog:
‘While the province of Ontario has reported in the media that its anti-smoking law should supercede any federal mandates, the Ontario Trucking Association has argued that the federal rules (which exempt vehicles) should be enforced. I can imagine how we’ll find out the final answer. You’ll be driving along the 401, minding your own business when one of Ontario’s finest will flash his lights and pull you over. Panic will strike as you wonder if your load has somehow come loose? But nope, the officer will instead hand you a hefty ticket for driving along with the window down with a cigarette butt dangling from your fingers. Just what this industry needs – more regulation!’
Has it really gotten to this? Has Ontario’s speed limiter law been so effective at slowing down the big rigs that the police are now spending their time on the roads gazing up into truck cabs in pursuit of smokers so they can get their trucker-ticketing fix?
I hope the offending trucker fights this charge and that the courts blow it off – bad pun intended. I’m not a smoker and I can’t stand the smell of the stuff – but what you do in the cab of your truck should be up to you, if you’re not endangering anyone else that is.

James Menzies

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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32 Comments » for Trucker fined for smoking in his truck; Did I call it or what?
  1. Harry Rudolfs says:

    I heard drivers talking about this on the CB today…everyone is furious, smokers and non-smokers…last straw etc… this is a win-win for McGuinty though….If the courts shoot it down he’ll still look like a hero he to the pro-health anti-smoking lobby. If the courts uphold it, then he’ll only have to face a backlash from a bunch of disgruntled O/Os, and he thinks he can handle that. My friend Terry Gibson suggests this is a ‘test case” for McGuinty’s law, not just an independent effort by one cop in Essex County. He thinks there must have been a directive to the OPP that came from the top.
    “Cut to the chase,” Gibson writes. “Hold a plebiscite alongside the next provincial ballot and ask people if they want
    to make tobacco “illegal”. Ask the folks if they want to slip one more combatant through the backdoor into the “War On Drugs” at this stage of the game. Ask the cops. Ask the gangsters. They won’t do it because they don’t have the political testicles to even risk trying. Smells like hypocrisy wrapped in warm blankets to me. Just like in this latest ‘can’t smoke in the car with kids under 16′ edict,’ why not not just ban smoking in automobiles? They’ll target truckers in this sneaking bullying fashion; but are willing to show selective tolerance when it comes to protecting the average population from this “serious” health threat?”

  2. James Menzies says:

    Harry, I’d be curious to know whether this was, in fact, a directive sent down from some bureaucrat in Toronto or whether it was a bored cop who wanted to create some headlines.
    With all the fires McGuinty has had to put out lately, I’m surprised they’d spark yet another one up intentionally. But one never knows.

  3. lavern forester says:

    its all about money, the province is broke they are looking at new revenue streams
    trucks are now an easy target u can only go 105kph so what an easier way to make money
    we are a rolling money pit and they all think truckers are millionares cause we drive 150000 rigs

  4. David Robson says:

    This in my opinion is just more political public relations from the law makers to satisfy the opinions of the general public and interest groups.
    Speed limiters applying only to commercial vehicles is both prejudice and selective targeting for revenue purposes. Since January, how many vehicles have been checked at the scales, fines given out to trucks traveling over 105kph? I believe this is a greater recipe for road rage.
    The smoking law for commercial vehicles falls under the same category. I drive for 14 hours and shut down for 10. So I can’t smoke in the truck while on duty but I can smoke in the truck while off duty? I have heard it only applies to day cabs (local driver) without sleepers. Many local drivers drive sleeper cab trucks because that’s all the trucking company has.
    Now they are implementing the hands free law but allowing truckers to use CB’s for the next three years until inventors produce a hands free CB. I truly believe that electronic devices are a large cause of many preventable fatalities. Technically, hands free still allows for mental distractions that will still result in fatalities.
    In my opinion law enforcement can’t monitor these laws the way the lawmakers want. There are too many gray areas in the law for the specific judgment of violations. These laws are targeting an industry that can’t be unbiasly regulated differently from one province to another without predjudism.
    In my opinion I think these laws are going to fall by the wayside as far as being a priority of enforcement. I think most of the violations will be given during police investigations after the fact, because we don’t have enough police to monitor violators on a daily regular basis.
    These issues are going to be ongoing in our industry and it will be interesting to see how it ends.

  5. meslippery says:

    How dark can you tint your windows?
    So they can t see you talk on the phone or smoke.
    I wonder if it was a unmarked car, I dont talk on the phone
    or smoke right in front of police.

  6. Marc Bridgeman says:

    I find it funny that a truck who is otherwise obeying the law would be pulled over on the 401 of all places for such a ridiculous offence. I remember a few years ago the cops pulled a car over and three cruisers were wrecked and people killed. At that time the police in western Ontario seemed to take a very harsh look at trucks in general.
    Unfortunately, since most drivers cannot afford to fight fines for the simple reason that lost time is more costly as well as travelling to fight it and everything else involved, probably means the ticket will get paid.
    What a shame that it has come to this in Ontario. So let me ask this, the next time you see a cop do somthing as silly as this, ask yourself this, Who polices the police?

  7. Carl Roy says:

    This ticket for smoking in the cab was most likely written by the officer who had nothing better to do.
    Now with this said and done my betting is that the Province through the Crown will go out of there way to get a conviction. In my area of Ontario the Crown has even resorted to fudge with the facts.
    I am not a smoker and I don’t encourage smoking but this has me wondering why don’t the Government just ban smokes being sold in Ontario.
    Opps they need the money that is why they are clamping down on Reservation tax free smokes.

  8. Jack Logan says:

    Sooooooo Here We Go Johnny.Can You Say COMMUNISUM NOW.This my friends should wake everyone up.How PATHETIC A Copper To accutally write the ticket in the first place.Can you imagine him/HER sitting around the dinner table over thanksgiving dinner BOASTING about thier day @ work and writing out a ticket for $305.00 And Proudly handing it to a Truck Driver,who would not even make that in a day.This Country Is Gone in the TANK.So Has this PROVINCE.I Think we need to make some NOISE Around here.Get These COMMIE BASTARDS OUTTA HERE,before we all end up in CONCENTRATION CAMPS.Think it sounds a little far fetched.Read up on history.Its Just How HITLER GOT STARTED.I’m Going To POLISH My Boots For The PARADE.If You Care To make some NOISE,Check us out on facebook (ONTARIO TRUCKERS WITH ATTITUDE)C-U There.Hyle Hut.

  9. Ed Murdoch says:

    The cab of a truck is often a driver/owner-op’s home on the road and should be exempt. It is NOT a public place of doing business and the only business conducted there is executed by the driver/owner. I have not smoked for 25 years but I defend the right of a driver or owner-op to smoke in his rig UNLESS it is compromising safety as he drives in traffic.

  10. Bev Plummer says:

    I thaught the article said it was a company truck which makes a difference.The city of Toronto vehicles have had no smoking intheir trucks for years.
    If the driver was smoking in a company truck again he was just thinking of himself. What about the next driver thats handed this truck who may be alergic to smoke? I’ve asked that question a few times and the smokers answer was generally to suggest I buy my own truck or find another type of work! This driver probably does not smoke in his home or in the office so why smoke in the truck? He wasn’t fined for smoking he can still smoke just needs to adjust it.

  11. M Holland says:

    I don’t believe there is another industry in this country that is subject to so much over-enforcement and scrutiny.For instance,in this province,there are more commercial vehicle enforcement officers than there are regular police officers (R.C.M.P & local )doing drug enforcement. It’s about time that something is done about this.This constant scrutiny,based on little or no justification, is driving people out of the industry.+

  12. Herb Bickford says:

    The smoking ticket is nonsense I am a non smoker but I thind a little common sense should prevail here. I understand that if the truck is IRP plated this law and some others may nnot apply.Such as the speed limiter law and perhaps the law that states that drivers over age 65 must take a test every year,by the the way this law (testing at 65) is the only law that is NOT enforced on out of province drivers.
    Herb bickford
    Kingsville, On

  13. john t mackay says:

    mcginty is out of control! trucks are speed limited but not the general public who
    travel 20 to30 kph faster than speeding trucks. what the hell is speeding anyway? i drive the
    speed limit and am taken to task for driving too slow. i also smoke in my, and i repeat myyy
    truck. i also use a cb in much the same manner as police use their radios. i do however have
    the choice as to if and when i pick-up the microphone and return transmission. cell phone
    users cannot resist the urge to say hello, even when making a lane change or turning a
    corner. hands free does not cut it. smoking in the cab of a truck does not seem to me to
    be a traffic hazard and if so make the rules for everyone. while taking a course on defensive
    driving many years ago, the instructor told me that driving a vehicle was a full time job.
    if the instructor is correct, then nobody should smoke in a vehicle, including me. ehat about
    travelling salesmen? sounds to me his/er car is their workplace.lets get real and target
    the problem areas of driving and not just truck drivers. by the way, i’m a mobil car/truck repair mechanic often fixing a car on the side of a highway. if i can’t smoke on the side of a highway–my work place–better call a tow truck instead of me!!

  14. M.Bolger says:

    Yesterday coming down the 401 from Kingston to t.o. ,3 times I had waved at an OPP as they went by me and each time they put a smile on there face as I made sure I had a lit cigarette that they could see .
    I think this was a headline issue and hope that that driver tries to fight this boggus charge to set a precidence.
    Do you think that the cops are going to want trucks pulling over on the side of the highways everytime we want to lite up .
    I never did hear if this was a company owned daycab or an o/o truck. I smoke in my truck and will continue to do so .

  15. GPD says:

    Truckers bring goods/supplies to the public, they are on a tight schedule dealing with all kind of daily stress from dispatchers,traffic, wheather conditions etc. they also have to deal with the hours of work, there pre-trip inspection (and by the way they usually do this for free as most drivers are paid by the mile) now the speed limiter!!!! and also to top it off this smoking in the work place. My question would be that truckers are they classified as robots or humain been?????

  16. Ralf Winter says:

    Wooo-is’t the poor truck driver! People when will you learn that “No One” gives a tinkers dam about us.

  17. R. Gould says:

    We should congratulate the driver. The officer couldn’t find anything else to write the ticket for so he really had to think about what he could get him for so it wasn’t a waste of time or at least appear that way to the higher ups. We all know when we get pulled over if they (police)need to get the numbers up, they pull over a truck, It’s the easiest way for them to write one. There are so many regulations that we have to follow and so many of them are open to interpetation the police can always find something. I agree with several of the other comments the officer wanted his name in the paper.
    DiD you know that in the majority of the US a percentage of every ticket written goes to the Trooper’s pension plan. I haven’t heard if the same is true in Ontario.
    Does make you think doesn’t it.

  18. B. Langille says:

    Discussing this a few days ago, a driver chimes in and says his brother (or brother-in-law) is a police officer in that same district, and that the driver being fined had repeatedly told the citing officer to f%#^ off, and that the smoking ticket was the fifth one he had recieved (presumably because of swearing at the officer). I obviously can’t confirm any of this, but if it’s true it sure puts a different tilt on the story. It’s hard to say one way or the other becuase we rarely get the full, objective story from the media.
    My understanding of the smoking in trucks/workplace legislation is that if you are an owner operator, and no one else drives that truck, you are free to smoke in it. Either way, it’s one more in a long line of dumbass laws. A policitan here on business was stopped by security in the hall and told he couldn’t smoke there. He replied “and they tell me I live in a respressed country! “.
    That being said…. anyone got a light?

  19. Robert D. Scheper says:

    James… I love your topics. Good dialogue! I don’t miss any of your postings!

  20. James Menzies says:

    Thanks, Robert and thank you for adding to the discussions!

  21. Arnold Wiens says:

    If they are so woried about the truckers smoking in their trucks I wonder if the ar going to watch the sales persons, safety persons (witch I am one) that dive company vehicle etc that smoke while driving. They will have to sit outside the offices and watch for the sales person to get into the car then fine them for smoking in their workplace. Or maybe they will have to have a licence plate on the vehicle that identifies it as a workplace so they can use the vehicle as a tax write off. I am a former smoker and the smell makes me sick but I think this is rediculus.

  22. Dave Steane says:

    Ever see a cop smoking in his cruiser…. I have. I agree, who’s policing the police.

  23. Derek says:

    Here we go again. Another example of repression by the provincial “poster child” of stupid laws; Ontario.
    Ten years ago, I took a position with a U.S. firm which required me to live in the U.S. Being Canadian, I still read the daily news from my home country on the internet. This gave me a unique perspective to look at Canada from the ‘outside’, for lack of a better term.
    For the most part, the masses are content to just go on with their own little personal lives, content in the knowledge the political party they voted for will be looking after their best interests, without question.
    I could go on about the little things; but I noticed one dominant aspect. We complain, complain & complain; yet as a group we do nothing pro-active to make our voices really heard & effect CHANGE. The politicians, for the most part, know this and go on their merry way of wasted spending, feeding at the public purse trough, et al.
    It is akin to being kicked in the crotch by Government; yet all we do is get up again and say:”Please Sir, May We Have Another?”

  24. Robert Hornick says:

    I must say there seems to be many double standards in enforcment of laws. I understabd the smoking ban law that the driver was fined under says you can not smoke in your workplace and that the enclosed area of the truck falls under that category.
    I agree, fine the driver but if one is going to do that then they best be fining all farmers that smoke in their equipment in their enclosed cabs while farming or bringing their product to market or in many cases the canning factories or elevtors. But you see them plowing their fields and if the law says it is their property then what about the custom farm work.
    If I was that driver I think I would be taking this one to court and have the judge decide if it is prejudicial against the transport industry leaving the agricultural industry exempt.
    I don’t smoke but I don’t see anything wrong with somone having the right to do what they want if they do not harm anyone else. Besides Canada is looking at legalising people have the right to end their own lives. What is the difference??

  25. brad says:

    lets face it Ontario is broke …its a money grab just like the cell phone ban is .

  26. Herb Bickford says:

    Back to my comments of oct 12. Now it is deemed that federally regulated trucks re exempt from the no smoking law my question still remains why out of provice drivers over age 65 do not have to comply to mandatory re-testing. Just another way the government picks and chooses the easy laws to enforce. The ontario drivers are hostages in their own province.

  27. G. Desjardins says:

    I have heard of a lot of accidents which I prefer to call STUPIDITYS in most cases being caused by the driver not paying as much attention to driving the vehicle as driving the phone, but I have never heard of a wreck being caused because the driver was on the CB. Now I ask you, When we can no longer use our radios, are the cops going to hang up their mikes as well? Not likely, they think they are above the law. It has been my experience that most seasoned truckers can drive just as good and in some cases better than the cops. As far as smoking while driving; is that any worse than drinking your Timmys while driving? My truck is my home away from home. I see no difference between that and living in a motor home by myself, other than I get payed to drive the truck. Does this law apply to motor homes too? Likely not, as you don’t need a class AZ license to drive a motor home.

  28. popkorn says:

    I would like know when the provincial government is going to get off their fat LAURELS and get Drive test back on the road,
    This is a little ridiculous,It has been 2 months since Serco locked out their employees forcing anyone that has to do a road test to wait until they are good and ready to negotiate.
    As far as I am concerned that time has past and the mcguinty gov. and the Ontario trucking assoc. should step in and force them back to the table.
    This is not the first time a Private Co. has told Mcguinty what to do for example (THE 407ETR).
    The company that I work for has been good enough to provide me with a truck and trailer to do my road test because I am one of those senior drivers (over 65 yrs) with a clear CVOR that government is forcing to do a road test every year.
    There are many drivers in the same position as I am and probably just as many new drivers waiting for road tests.
    For the older drivers as many times as we do our pre-trip and every thing else required it is difficult when someone is sitting in the seat beside you checking off everything you do wrong.
    Come on Mcguinty its time to show SERCO that you are a man not a MOUSE cowering in a corner somewhere.

  29. Flip Side says:

    I can see how such a ticket would enrage an owner operator.
    However, as a dispatcher with company trucks (and team drivers), smoking is a big problem for us. I get extremely frustrated with drivers lying about smoking in the truck, they figure if they just crack the window no one will be able to smell it simply because they cannot. It’s an inconsiderate act that can affect the health and well being of others. I would love to see those offenders get ticketed. It truly is a common workplace in many instances.
    That said, if you are the owner and operator of the truck……… I say smoke away! You are not affecting anyone but yourself.

  30. Jack Visser says:

    This law has been implemented in Sweden for as long as I can remember, also there has been talk for years now, that it will be a law in the near future in Germany, Holland, England, France, Belgium, and as far as I know, Austria.
    The only way to get away from this law, (except in Sweden) is to own the truck, in which case it’s not classed as a work-space, but a property, and as rightly put in one of the comments “you can do what you want in your own ‘house'”

  31. Brian says:

    After much talk a few of us have come up with a solution to these recent issues. The page I wrote up to be photocopied and distributed goes as follows….
    It has come to the point where driving has become unbearable in Ontario. Drivers are being fined for smoking in their own trucks (their home for 1 week to months on end), for not governing their trucks to 105 km/h and simply being in a bigger vehicle than other motorists who choose to drive nervously with them on a daily basis and complain about it. It has been imposed that CB radios are not to be used in Ontario as they are a hand held communication device and fall under subject of the new ban on cell phone use law. I for one am tired of seeing police on the highways doing nothing more than pointing their radar gun at oncoming traffic and issuing a fine for speeding. How often do truck drivers get cut-off, flipped off and ticked off on a daily basis? How about doing something other than sit (quite a few have been spotted driving at the same time) in their cruiser talking on their own cell phone in the median? There are other laws to be enforced but unfortunately they seem to have forgotten about them. Change needs to be made and in order to make that happen, the men and women who drive trucks, delivery vans and buses need to make it known that we aren’t happy.
    The proposal for this solution is that beginning December 25th 2009 drivers stay at home with their family and friends that they often don’t get to see nearly enough. In most cases, 36 hours per week (sleep included) or less. If enough drivers fail to return to their trucks, it won’t take long until warehouses are plugged full, people get laid off, groceries stores run low and livestock gets hungry….
    The backbone to industry and every business is it’s delivery service. The “powers that be” need to realize that everything they wear, sit on, drive, eat, walk on and so on was once a truck at least twice. Once as some sort of raw material and a second time to be delivered to where they purchased it.
    The requested actions:
    – better policing
    – removal of governors on all trucks
    – allow men and women to smoke in their truck if they choose to (leave it to company policy)
    – allow the use of CB radios
    – the ability to obtain a licence more difficult
    This is a small list but it can grow very quickly if the government chooses to play hard ball.
    Choose not to return to work after X-mas and let them know what you think.
    Please copy this page and distribute…..

  32. Joker says:

    I wonder what Ontario would do if Trucks just stopped going there!!!! Perhaps shut itself down
    due to lack of everything transported in that province!! oh I know some no mind will say well we have trains!!! How do trains get their fuel??? And how do you propose the train gets it the STORES? Ontario needs to wake up and realize it does not dictate what the rest of Canada can and can’t do!!!! get off the smack OPP and Government!!! You wander why you are hated by North America!!!! Just keep snortin maybe it will sink in yet ! Ya I know wishful thinking.
    HEY guys and gals of the road KEEP THE SHINEY SIDE UP! Catch ya on the flip!!!

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