Another Ontario trucker fined for smoking in his truck

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WINDSOR, Ont. — Another truck driver has been fined under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act for smoking a cigarette in the cab of the company-owned truck he was driving.

Kenneth Shelson was pulled over by the OPP on Aug. 23 on Hwy. 401, near Exit 129 for smoking in ‘an enclosed workplace.’ He said the officer asked him if he was a company driver or broker, and when Shelson said he was a company driver, the officer wrote him a $305 ticket for “smok(ing) tobacco in an enclosed workplace contrary to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, Sec. 9, Paragraph 1.” The officer then said the truck must have a Non-Smoking sign in the cab and provided Shelson with such a sign.

Shelson, however, drives for a cross-border, federally regulated carrier that is not covered by the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Federally regulated carriers are instead covered by the Non-Smoker’s Health Act, which doesn’t implicitly forbid drivers from smoking in their trucks.

When the Smoke-Free Ontario Act was introduced in 2006, the Ontario Trucking Association sought – and received – assurances that only provincially regulated carriers would be forced to comply.

“Our concern was over provincial incursion into an area of federal law and what precedent that might set in other statutes in the future,” OTA chief David Bradley said at the time. “We are very pleased that we were able to work with the government on this issue and come to an understanding on how the law affects a major segment of the industry.”

In October 2008, however, an Ontario truck driver was given a $305 fine for smoking in a company-owned truck. He too was charged by the OPP near Windsor. The case sparked much discussion and debate, even in the mainstream media.

Shelson said he was cooperative with the police officer and is now considering fighting the ticket. He has 15 days to decide from the date it was issued.

“Should I contest the fine of $305 or just pay it?” he asked He said he was surprised to get pulled over, because he was not speeding or committing any moving violations at the time. It was 2:15 a.m. and Shelson said he was just looking forward to getting home.

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  • Just yesterday one of my drivers had to pull into the Nipigon/Red Rock MTO scales b/c the lights were on. After the MTO was done with my driver, a health & safety officer checked him for smoking in the cab. He was given a warning and info & sticker. He was told next time he will get fined. This article says if we are a federal regulated carrier, we are not under this law. Do you have some resources to back that up? This particular truck does not exit Ontario and is plated just for ontario, but we have trucks that do, and therefore are federally regulated. I need something I can give my drivers for their defense when presented with a fine. Can anyone help?

  • I would fight the fine and question the law on enclose workplace.
    I’m stuck in traffic and buddy next to me is puffing away and I can’t.
    So it’s alright for mom or dad to smoke in there car to and from work.
    Then let 16 year old Bobby or Sue take the car on the town.
    I understand smoking with other people around in a “enclosed workplace” is wrong.
    I’m in my truck alone smoking, how is this affecting my co-workers the population the environment.
    Why is this government harassing Truck drivers. I don’t hear people getting fined on Bay st. or at the park with little Timmy playing in the sandbox.
    Your a hippo-crate government, You let us transport them buy them and you tax us,but smoke them and you fine us.
    I’m embarrassed to live in this province.

    • Mom and dads smoking in cars with children in the back seat (or anybody in the back seat for that matter) can also be pulled over and fined. It’s ot a harassment to truck drivers, but a health concern.

    • 3rd party smoke is a real thing!

      I work for a temp service and at my placement driving a truck previously assigned to a heavy smoker, I can feel my lungs closing every day within the first half hour of being in this truck as well as being able to taste the cigs.

      After a week I had to ask for a different truck that wasn’t used by smokers.

      They give me a different truck. Still has ashes all over the friggin place but this particular smoker was more a pig then an addict! Lol

  • Obviously this officer has way too much time on his/her hands. With all the HTA violations happening every minute of every day with the potential of causing some very serious harm to numerous motorists and this is the best they can come up with? Let’s get our priorities in order people!

    • Hello

      I drive for a company which does not leave the province and doesn’t seem to have a policy of their own as everyone that smokes does so in the vehicles. I do not smoke but my partner does, I would Iike clarification on my rights before I say anything I’m new with the company and my partner is a close family member of the owner, what do I do, I hate it on many levels.

  • I know if my name is on the ownership I can smoke, but if its my brothers I cant, even if he smokes in the same truck when he is driving it.
    Its just more dumb law out there.

    Henry I hope you win your case, but speed limiters are a provincial law
    that federally regulated carriers seem to have to obey.

    “Our concern was over provincial incursion into an area of federal law and what precedent that might set in other statutes in the future,” OTA chief David Bradley said at the time. “We are very pleased that we were able to work with the government on this issue and come to an understanding on how the law affects a major segment of the industry.”
    David should not speed limiters fall under Fed law too.

  • Smoking vs not smoking depends on wether the truck crosses the border or not.Just another way we in Ontario are discrimitated against. Case in point drivers over age 65 licensed in Ontario must take the manditory test but out of province drivers do not. I guess drivers over 65 from outside Ontario are safer than we are.

  • Sorry Chris ,I disagree .
    I work for a company where the truck runs 24/7 and is shared between 3 people. Why should the poor non smoker have to breath that disgusting smell of residue nicotine. Have you read the latest risk called 3 Ed hand smoke. Google it and you’ll see how toxic the inside of a smoked cab is.

  • Herb Bickford

    Smoking vs not smoking depends on wether the truck crosses the border or not.Just another way we in Ontario are discrimitated against. Case in point drivers over age 65 licensed in Ontario must take the manditory test but out of province drivers do not. I guess drivers over 65 from outside Ontario are safer than we are.

    Posted September 3, 2011 01:32 PM

    They must be a lot safer Herb they dont have speed limiters either.

  • I hate the tobacco smoke too. But I hate the government most of all. This isnt about governments concern for my well being, otherwise the government wouldnt allow tobacco to be sold.Its about the need to control and reduce humanity to powerless slaves. Where is my protection from a government that I am sure is against me? Freedom!

  • I first have to tip my hat to Mr. Shelston, I do not smoke but if a cop was standing on my running boards giving me a $305 ticket, I would have opened the door and shoved him into traffic.
    Why is it that as truck drivers we are the worst laws and most discriminating police work imaginable? better yet, Why do we put up with it? Why do we just keep bending over for these people? Shelston was completely within his rights to be smoking in the truck, by the letter of the law, and yet was charged by an idiot, I mean cop. And now looses either way because he will have to pay the fine, or the defence.

    As a driver, we know that the entire countries economy runs because of the trucks on the road, I think its about time we start teaching that to the uninformed

  • I will start will I fully understand nonsmokers rights and what 2nd hand smoke dose I don’t smoke in my home. Its been snoke free for 10 years

    I think you should fight this fine to let the OPP know they should know the law before they fine someone. The truck is PRP plated and dose not fall under ONT law -its under federal laws. Its hard with HOS law as it to stop every few hours when you are payed ton mile or to find a place to stop for a bathroom break or coffee !let alone a smoke. If you by yourself what the harm in smoking in the truck (slip seating aside) I’m in my truck 24/5 in the summer. Most weeks in winter 24/7 running salt I’ve been stopped over the years by OPP don’t know truck laws. They need to look more at 4 wheelers doing 140k , texting. Or then self for smoking and texting in the cop cars!!! Then us smoking in your trucks

  • Its interesting that the OPP have time to pull over a driver for smoking in the truck. Recently my vehicle was broken into and electronics were stolen. They took that report over the phone and wouldn’t send an officer out. Seems to be a messed up value system where smoking a cigarette in a cab with nobody else there is of greater societal harm than theft. I think its of crucial importance that that charge be withdrawn in order to teach the police that it is not up to them to make up laws and rules. Fact of the matter is that federally regulated carriers are exempt….period.

    Carriers may choose to instituite their own policy governing it but the law is the law. Smoking is an addiction which many have and its pretty hard to ask a driver to stop and get out of his truck in a snow-storm or traffic. If its a shared truck, well common sense should prevail.

  • As with any new legislation there is a process of learning that takes place. As an ex-cop and and ex-government health and safety investigator (Provincial) I have had to understand and enforce more pieces of legislation than most. Although most traffic laws remain static and the cop becomes very good at understanding all aspects, of all sections of the Highway Traffic Act, the other Provincial Government legislation is not the same.
    A few years back the Government Health and Safety Inspectors were the ones charged with the duty to enforce the Smoking in the Workplace Act, but this legislation had very little teeth and was by and large ineffective. When the new Smoke-Free Ontario Act was introduced it was made the jurisdiction mainly of the Health Departments.
    The police in all jurisdictions enforce Federal and Provincial Law, and in some jurisdictions also enforce local Municipal Law (bylaws). They have maybe one training day a month in which firearm practise and hand to hand combat techniques are re-certified, and then all other new legislative changes are explained to them. One is not an expert the day they hear about the new laws. New laws often have many hurdles to clear before it is learned by the public, the police and the courts, how exactly it is going to be properly enforced. Often everything is thought to be perfected and then a Provincial Court Judge, or Justice of the Peace throws a wrench into the plan with a ruling, that creates case law based on one case. (case law must be then followed by all similar and lower courts from that day on, until ruled on by a higher court).
    My advice is that the trucker needs to show up in court, and prove to the court that the carrier was federally regulated, and if the Judge or Justice of the Peace understands the legislation, the case will be tossed out. If not the judgement may need to be appealed by the defense lawyer, until the appropriate outcome is reached (one which does not bring the administration of justice into disrepute). Doing this will not be easy for most, as it costs money to be in court rather than driving, but until the Courts toss out a few cases AND the word gets back to the various police departmental jurisdictions that the law is being improperly enforced, then improper tickets will continue to be issued. Once the police departments have been shown the error of their ways they will provide better, and more thorough training to their officers.
    The cops would rather write good tickets than ones that are bound to end up in court any day of the week. The municipal department I worked for would not schedule court on your work days, so I often had to spend a day off in court, or worse…the day in court between midnight shifts. I am sure that the prospective departments would rather not pay their officers to waste time in court with no chance of obtaining a conviction or collecting the fine for the community.
    One of the reasons I left Government was due to the constant, continuous changes of legilsation, as well as the ways that legislation is inforced, which increasingly I found I could no longer keep up with.
    This issue will all work itself out in the end, if the Provincial Government doesn’t stir the pot, and change the rules yet again… but there is a period where the law will be sorted out, and sometimes improperly understood by the enforcement bodies.
    Please remember that cops are humans too, they make mistakes just like the rest of us do. They do what they do in good faith and do not lay bad charges on purpose with the hope that the fine will be paid.

  • just recently had one of my front end waste drivers charged $305.00 as well just south of parrysound . he was dumping a customers front end bin person approached from drivers side and tapped on window flashed a badge and requested drivers licence and id. he was written a ticket for $305.00 car was plain gold chrysler and he was not in uniform. no warning at all not a very nice person to boot. so be careful out there its happening in the north as we speak.

  • I think the police should crack down on these smokers in commercial vehicles. Why should I have to drive a work vehicle that someone else has been smoking in.

  • I drive for a federally regulated company. There is no system to separate smokrs/non smokrs from using designated trucks. The company tries but it falls apart.
    I have sat in smoked in trucks for 8 years, my doctor told me that I now have a very sensitive allergy to it from long exposure. Now, my throat closes up, my sinuses plug up, my eyes gum up and I’m wiping them constantly which makes me swerve out of my lane. My throat gets sore and full of phlegm. A greasy film coats my skin, which always happens in the stronger trucks and I can lick nicotine butter off of my lips. I go home, and shower, I smell the smoke washing off. My cloths stink like I was smoking.
    I get angry and stressed that I have to put up with this.
    The federal government doesn’t give me options that work. The options they do provide are ones which put me at risk of job security or comfort as both options mean bringing in a labour officer. In the real world, employers mark you for doing that.
    The smokers options are: show up to work, and smoke in any truck you want. They don’t have to complain that the truck wasn’t smoked in. There is no equality here.
    It is a pro smoker law which goes against the non smoker.
    I’m not against smoking in trucks, I’m against driving trucks that have been smoked in because it makes me sick.

    Why should I leave a job because I’m getting smoked out?

  • So its ok for other drivers that don’t smoke to get headaches from another person bad habits possibly get cancer for using same truck in the work the fine stop your bad habits…..

  • If this is illegal to smoke in the truck than this must be illegal to be sold out at the stores shameless government.
    Eye opener for all the Ontario residents
    Government came up with the new strategy O hey how should be able to collect more taxes hmmm let’s screw the truck drivers this time for smoking in the truck
    O Yeah great
    Applause in the hall
    Let’s roll it

  • If the truck is company owned he has to pay the fine. What if he had a co worker with him does that worker not have a right to a smoke free work space? Think about all workers not just one self serving worker.