Truckers fuming mad over smoking fine

WINDSOR, Ont. — A trucker was recently fined for smoking while driving his rig along Highway 401 near Windsor, Ont. and the ticket has sparked a bit of outrage among other drivers.

The 48-year-old driver was stopped by Essex County OPP when an officer noticed a lit cigarette between the driver’s lips. Although the trucker was the lone occupant in the vehicle, he was fined $305 for smoking in an enclosed workplace.

The ticket was issued under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which was enacted in 2006 and prohibits people from smoking tobacco or holding lit tobacco in any enclosed public place or enclosed workplace. While the officer was upholding the letter of the law, it hasn’t stopped other drivers from criticizing the fine.

"I really think that’s ridiculous," Abe Gunther told CBC. "I don’t smoke at all and I never have, but I would think that nobody else is there, he’s not bothering anybody."

Kevin McKellar, a driver for 21 years, also told CBC he’d go to court to fight a fine, if he were given one.

"I own the truck, I’m the only driver," he said. "As far as I know, they can’t do anything to stop me from smoking in it."

And that’s where the confusion of the Ontario law lies — not all truck cabs are created equally.

Owner-operators for the most part are exempted from the rule. Independent truckers may light up in their own trucks as long as no one else — not even a part-time driver, spouse, or friend — enters the cab at any time, including off-duty hours.

Federally regulated trucking companies are also not bound by Ontario’s controversial blanket smoking ban, which fines fleet owners for employees puffing in truck cabs.

As Today’s Trucking first reported when the Smoke Free Ontario Act took effect, there was some uncertainty as to whether the new law — which bans all smoking in enclosed public spaces and workplaces, including commercial trucks and taxis — would trump a separate, federal anti-smoking bill that governs federally-regulated carriers.

As it turned out, it didn’t. Federally regulated carriers fall under Ottawa’s Non-smokers Health Act, which allows employers to designate smoking areas within the workplace.

Trucking companies that do not leave the province still have to abide by the Ontario regulation, which levies penalties averaging $10,000 per incident for allowing employees to smoke and not notifying them of the new rules. Some corporations can technically see fines as high as $300,000 in some cases.

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