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Tobacco Reduction: Policies and Regulations


  • Tobacco reduction,
  • Policy environment,
  • Facilities & organizations,
  • Healthcare facilities,
  • Workplace,
  • Community,

Tobacco Reduction: Policies and regulations

Research shows that tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada. In 2015, approximately 2,780 new cancers diagnosed in Alberta were linked to tobacco smoking.1 Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals with at least 172 of these being toxic and 69 known to cause cancer.2 Tobacco is the only consumer product that will kill at least one in two regular users when used as it’s intended to be used.3

Ways to get started

  • Communities can support the development of local policies and bylaws that build on provincial regulations. Examples include prohibiting sales of tobacco products to minors4,5 and regulating the location and density of retailers through zoning.4
  • Identify all tobacco regulations and policies (municipal and provincial) that impact your community. Recognize businesses, schools, or public property where the reinforcement of existing regulations are done. Work with appropriate authorities or settings (e.g. businesses, schools or public places) to plan ways to reinforce existing local tobacco regulations or to update and strengthen them within those settings.6
  • Support organizations in acquiring resources for tobacco regulations and policies (creation and/or reinforcement).
  • Attend meetings at the municipality, health council/boards, and other organizations to present community concerns about tobacco and the need for policies and regulations to be created and reinforced—possibly revising them to include recent concerns such as vaping.
  • Work with municipalities and organizations to raise awareness of the regulations and to develop culturally appropriate signage or other material to support businesses or public areas in reinforcing tobacco regulations.7

For further action to reduce tobacco use in the community, see


Multi-component community-wide interventions that increase awareness about and provide opportunities to reduce tobacco use in your community will have greater impact than implementing one-off strategies.

Evaluation measures the impact of all the hard work that went into developing a community initiative. Evaluating impact examines:

  1. What you expect to learn or change
  2. What you measure and report
  3. How to measure impact

What you expect to learn about policies and regulations may include:

  • Learning that the strategy was implemented as planned
  • Increased policies and regulations that restrict smoking or tobacco
  • Reduced smoking or tobacco use or access to products

References Tobacco Policies and Regulations

  1. Poirier AE, Ruan Y, Grevers X, Walter SD, Villeneuve PJ, Friedenreich CM, Brenner DR. Estimates of the current and future burden of cancer attributable to active and passive tobacco smoking in Canada. Preventive Medicine. 2019;122:9-19.
  2. United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). (2010). How tobacco smoke causes disease: The biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: Author. Accessed at:
  3. Els, C. (2009). Tobacco addiction: What do we know, and where do we go? Accessed at: _and_where_do_we_go
  4. Change Lab Solutions. Tobacco retailer licensing. An effective tool for public health. California. 2018.
  5. Astor RL, Urman R, Barrington-Trimis JL, et al. Tobacco retail licensing and youth product use. Pediatrics. 2019;143(2):e20173536.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC). Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. 2014.
  7. Sully E, Dobbins M. Health-related effects of government tobacco control policies: Evidence and implications for public health. Health Evidence. 2016.
  8. Health Canada. Looking Forward: The Future of Federal Tobacco Control. Government of Canada.