Health groups demand full implementation of tobacco legislation following the release of new cannabis legalization framework

Edmonton - Alberta health organizations are demanding the full implementation of stalled tobacco legislation following the release of a new provincial legalization framework for cannabis.  The new framework calls for regulatory measures for cannabis that are stronger that existing controls on tobacco.  The cannabis framework has been fast-tracked while the implementation of tobacco legislation has been repeatedly stalled.

“Tobacco kills 37 times more Canadians than cannabis and tobacco legislation should not take a back seat to cannabis regulation” said Kristyn Berry of the Canadian Cancer Society.  “The regulation of a less harmful legal drug should not take precedent over the control of a more harmful legal substance.  Alberta youth deserve first-class protection from all harmful substances including the most widespread and deadly form of drug abuse which is clearly tobacco.”

Albertans agree with the coalition’s position.  A recent Leger Research public opinion poll revealed that four out of five Albertans don’t want tobacco legislation to take a back seat to cannabis regulation.
Passed in 2013, major sections of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act remain unimplemented including measures to reduce tobacco sales to minors, to protect all workers from secondhand smoke on the job and to extend the ban on flavoured tobacco to all tobacco products.

“One Cabinet meeting is all that is required to mandate the full implementation of life-saving legislation that will protect thousands of Alberta youth from the deadly consequences of tobacco addiction” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking & Health.  “We urge the Premier and her Cabinet to finish the job on tobacco legislation before implementing cannabis legislation.  It is impossible to justify stronger controls on cannabis based on relative harm.  This deadly double standard cannot be justified.”

The new cannabis legal framework calls for licensing of cannabis retail sales through AGLC, restrictions on the location of cannabis stores, and mandatory training for all store clerks.  None of these restrictions are currently placed on tobacco sales at the provincial level in Alberta.

“The Alberta government still has an opportunity to right this wrong by fully implementing the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act before cannabis is legalized in July 2018” said Kayla Atkey of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention.  “We encourage everyone to visit to let your MLA know that Alberta youth deserve first-class protection from tobacco. Protection delayed is protection denied.”

The Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act was passed in the Legislative Assembly in 2013 with the unanimous support of the NDP caucus.  The Alberta government is currently suing tobacco companies for $10 billion to recover healthcare costs resulting from tobacco use while allowing the industry to escape further regulation.

Les Hagen at 780-919-5546
Kristyn Berry at 780-994-4103

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