11/07/2014 10:27 EST | Updated 01/07/2015 05:59 EST

Ontario banning smoking on patios, playgrounds Jan. 1

The Ontario government is strengthening its anti-smoking laws in the new year to make it illegal to light up in children's playgrounds, publicly owned sports fields, and restaurant and bar patios.

The ban will take effect starting Jan. 1, the government announced Friday.

On the same date, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act will be revised to bar the sale of tobacco on university and college campuses.

The legislation would also double fines for selling cigarettes to minors and ban all sales of candy and fruit-flavoured tobacco products.

Ontario's smoking rate was nearly 25 per cent in 2000, but last year the rate fell to 18.1 per cent, representing 332,361 fewer smokers.

British Columbia has the lowest smoking rate in the country, 14.5 per cent and some credit its tough anti-smoking laws.

In 2010, the city of Vancouver banned smoking at city parks and beaches.