Despite increased restrictions and prominent signage, many smokers are still lighting up near public buildings on Toronto's streets.

There were no charges laid in the city, despite 212 complaints concerning smoking in public areas last year, CTV News has learned from a freedom of information request.

Changes were made to Chapter 709 of Toronto's municipal code in late 2013, making it illegal to smoke within nine metres of any entrance or exit of a building used by the public. This includes areas such as municipal buildings, shopping malls, shops, condos, apartments, restaurants, bars and cafes.

And citizens are still seeing smokers light up in these areas.

"There's always someone right under the sign -- of all places -- that will be smoking," one woman told CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson.

Some smokers admit they aren't dissuaded by signs.

"I don’t even know why we have it if no one is going to follow it," said one woman, who was smoking in front of Toronto's Metro Hall.

City officials say that the signs are effective, and that despite the more than 200 complaints they only lay charges in cases of repeat offenders.

"Our response is not proactive," said Melissa Simone a spokeswoman for Toronto Public Health.

"We depend on the public to be compliant, and when there's an instance of non-compliance they are welcome to call 311 to report that," she added.

Enforcement staff can hand out fines ranging between $300 and $5,000, but Toronto Public Health says there are no plans to focus on proactive measures.

Instead, health officials say the focus will remain on education and awareness.

Statistics show that tobacco is responsible for the deaths of 13,000 people in Ontario each year.

The province's health care system also loses an estimated $2.2 billion in direct costs and $5.3 billion in indirect costs, such as lost productivity, to tobacco-related diseases.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson