Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta (CSFA) is a coalition of prominent health organizations working to reduce tobacco use in Alberta. Information on this webpage reflects the position of the coalition and represents evidence-based approaches to reducing and preventing the use of tobacco and vaping products. If you need more information, please contact us.

Background on tobacco use and vaping in Alberta

Tobacco use results in the premature death of 4,100 Albertans which is more than all other substances combined.1  Tobacco is the most widespread and harmful form of substance use.  Nicotine is one of the most addictive legal substances available and it causes tobacco dependency.  Smoking and vaping share the same fundamental health hazard—nicotine addiction.
Youth vaping in Alberta almost tripled between 2015 and 2017.2 Alberta’s youth vaping rate is the third highest in the country (behind Ontario and Quebec) with more than 35,000 kids reporting the use of vaping products in the past 30 days in 2017.3,4 In fact, the rates of vaping among youth have now surpassed the rate of smoking among youth.5

Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only provinces in Canada without provincial regulations to protect children and youth from vaping products.

Vaping products should be regulated like tobacco products in order to protect youth and nonsmokers from nicotine addiction.

Please take a few minutes to tell the Alberta government to take strong action to prevent youth vaping and tobacco use.

We need your help to protect another generation of youth from nicotine addiction and tobacco use. Youth vaping in Alberta has reached epidemic proportions and youth smoking rates are rising for the first time in a quarter century. We must act now to put the brakes on these disturbing trends.

The Alberta government is currently reviewing its tobacco control legislation. This is a critical opportunity to improve Alberta policy on tobacco and vaping, but the tobacco and vaping companies are pushing back.

Don't let industry lobbyists dictate public health in Alberta. The government needs to hear from people like you who are concerned about the well-being of our kids.

One of the first steps in the review process is a public consultation which includes an online survey that is open until November 29th. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey after reviewing the information below. In just three easy steps you can ensure that your voice is heard!

Brief yourself

The following tabs provide important background information to allow you to complete the survey in an informed manner.

Create more smoke-free and vape-free spaces.

a) Vaping should be prohibited anywhere smoking is prohibited
Within the last decade the use of vaping products has increased significantly and vaping has become widespread in public spaces. Exposure to public vaping has the potential to renormalize smoking and to increase tobacco use among youth.6There are very close similarities between the form and function of cigarettes and vaping products.7,8 Children are often unable to distinguish between smoking, toking and vaping especially since these products often produce visible emissions. Kids must be protected from exposure to any form of smoking or vaping in public places to help keep kids tobacco-free and nicotine-free for life.9

b) Expand restrictions on smoking and vaping in public places
Restrictions on the smoking or vaping of any substance should be expanded to include areas frequented by children and youth including playgrounds, parks, recreation amenities and public events.

The legalization of cannabis and the increase in vaping in public has the potential to renormalize public smoking and may reverse decades of progress in creating smoke-free environments. Smoke-free environments have played a crucial role in changing norms regarding the acceptability of smoking and ultimately smoking behaviors.10,11,12,13

Smoke-free public spaces help to denormalize smoking because when smoking is less visible it reduces social desirability.14 Reduced public smoking can reduce tobacco use among children and youth as they are more likely to follow social norms.15 Modeling is an essential element of childhood development.

c) Prohibit smoking and vaping in all workplaces
Thousands of Alberta workers remain unprotected from secondhand smoke—including those who work in group residential facilities, childcare day homes and hotel/motel staff. These workers remain unprotected from secondhand smoke at work despite the serious health risks. All workers deserve protection from secondhand smoke. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

d) Prohibit waterpipe/shisha smoking in indoor public spaces
Waterpipe (hookah) use has grown in popularity in Alberta, particularly among youth.16 In Alberta, 8,000 young people in grades 6 to 12 used a waterpipe in the past 30 days in 2017. 17

The number of establishments that allow waterpipe smoking have increased, exposing the public to harmful secondhand smoke and enticing youth to experiment with alternative forms of smoking.18 Youth are often able to enter waterpipe use venues and are even permitted to consume waterpipe products in some establishments.

There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and that includes waterpipe smoke (herbal and/or tobacco shisha).19 People who are exposed to waterpipe smoke are at risk of the same negative health outcomes as individuals exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke even if only herbal waterpipe products are used.20

Twenty-four Alberta municipalities, including Edmonton, have already banned waterpipe smoking in public establishments.21 However, a full provincial ban with uniform protection and a level playing field for hospitality business is required.

e) Prohibit tobacco, cannabis and waterpipe/shisha smoking in public housing
There is no uniform protection from secondhand smoke for people living affordable or public multi-unit housing.

Exposure to secondhand smoke, including from tobacco, waterpipe and cannabis, particularly within indoor spaces, is related to poor health outcomes.22 Within the multi-unit housing setting, residents living in affordable multi-unit housing are more likely to be regularly involuntary exposed to secondhand smoke in their home.23,24 This includes vulnerable populations such as children, elderly, and disabled residents who are more likely to suffer from illness and disease.25 These individuals and families have less choice in their housing options and face long wait times for housing if they face poor living conditions.26

Smoke-free public multi-unity housing policies do not prevent people who use tobacco or cannabis from accessing affordable housing. These policies only indicate where individuals are permitted to smoke in multi-unity housing so as to not impact the health of other residents.

The Saskatchewan government prohibited smoking in all public housing in 2018.All public housing in the U.S. is smoke-free under a 2018 rule imposed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Restrict the retail sale of vaping products and expand retail restriction on tobacco products.

The lack of effective tobacco and vaping product sales to minors legislation coupled with the absence of active enforcement has contributed to increased tobacco and vaping sales to minors in Alberta.

a) Prohibit vaping product sales to minors
Alberta youth are using vaping products at alarming rates and many are obtaining vaping products from retail stores.27

Alberta is the only province that has not passed legislation to enhance the federal vaping legislation which has numerous loopholes and omissions. Alberta needs to extend its restrictions on tobacco sales to minors to include vaping products. These restrictions would demanding photo ID, carding anyone who appears to be under the age of 25 and mandatory training for all retailers.

b) Prohibit minors from selling tobacco and vaping products
People employed to sell alcohol must be at least 18 years of age. However, minors as young as 14 are permitted to sell tobacco and vaping products in Alberta.

Research shows that younger clerks are more willing to selling tobacco to minors.28 In contrast, a minor is less likely to purchase tobacco products when the counter is staffed by adult clerks.29

Stores that sell tobacco and vaping products should have at least one adult staff member in the premises at all times to ensure staff safety and compliance.

c) License tobacco and vaping retailers
Alberta has the highest levels of tobacco sales to minors of any province according to the most recent national retail compliance study commissioned by Health Canada.30 Twenty-two percent of retailers tested were willing to sell to minors versus 15 percent nationally when last tested in 2014.31 Alberta youth are using vaping products at alarming rates and many are obtaining vaping products from retail stores.32

Alberta needs to regulate tobacco and vaping product sales to minors in a manner that is consistent with liquor and cannabis sales. Alberta’s retail liquor and cannabis licensing system provides a good working model for tobacco and vaping product sales.

Liquor and cannabis licensees must comply with numerous licensing conditions enforced by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. Yet despite the disproportionate lethality of tobacco industry products compared to cannabis33 and the potential harm of vaping products among children and youth,34 alcohol and cannabis sales are subject to far more restrictive regulation than tobacco and vaping products in Alberta.

Evidence indicates that when strong retail licensing requirements are implemented and actively enforced, they are effective at reducing tobacco product sales to minors and can help reduce tobacco consumption among youth.35

Fees collected from licensing can provide steady revenue to support active oversight and enforcement by regulatory agencies.

Eleven provinces and territories license the retail sale of tobacco products.

d) Require mandatory training of all tobacco and vaping retailers
All liquor and cannabis retail staff in Alberta are required to take mandatory online training. Tobacco kills more Albertans than liquor and cannabis combined and tobacco and vaping product retailers should be required to take mandatory training to help prevent sales to minors and other legal violations.

Prohibit the retail display and promotion of vaping products.

Alberta prohibits the retail display and promotion of tobacco products and this requirement should apply to vaping products as well. The retail display and promotion of vaping products should not be permitted.

Due to loopholes and omissions in federal vaping regulations, vaping companies and retailers are able to promote vaping devices through retail, outdoor and print advertising and have developed campaigns that target youth with highly addictive and appealing products.36 Vaping advertising and promotions to youth should not be permitted.

The promotion of vaping products has increased greatly in retail locations.37,38The marketing of vaping products to youth has permeated youth culture. Vaping product promotions have saturated spaces and media frequented and used by youth, including convenience stores and social media.39 Exposure to vaping product promotions and advertisements is greater among youth and young adults compared to older adults.40 Youth who are exposed to vaping product promotions are more likely to use vaping products and to become addicted to nicotine.41

Prohibit the sale of vaping products where tobacco sales are prohibited (except pharmacies).

Tobacco products cannot be sold from healthcare facilities, educational institutions or pharmacies. With the exception of pharmacies, vaping products should not be sold from these locations. Pharmacists should be allowed to sell vaping products to assist smokers who are trying to quit. Nicotine replacement can help smokers quit.

Further reduce the retail locations from which tobacco and vaping products can be sold.

Tobacco and vaping products should not be sold from any licenced liquor or cannabis establishments—including retail stores—to discourage the mixed use of these harmful substances.

Public institutions and recreation facilities should not sell harmful and addictive products including tobacco and vaping products. Public institutions and recreation facilities should serve as healthy role models in their communities.

Prohibit the sale of flavoured vaping products except tobacco and nicotine flavoured products.

Restrictions on flavoured vaping products are essential to reduce youth vaping and to prevent nicotine addiction and potential tobacco use.42

There is an astounding number of flavoured vaping products on the market with some estimates as high as 7,000 unique flavours.43,44 The vast majority of vaping products used by youth are flavoured.45 In particularly, almost 100% of youth who experiment and continue using vaping products use flavoured vaping products.46 Youth addiction to nicotine can easily lead to tobacco dependency. Youth who vape nicotine are four times as likely to start smoking tobacco.47

Not only are flavour additives in vaping products appealing to young people they are also toxic.48 Many flavoured vaping products contain diacetyl (buttery or creamy flavour) which has been associated with the development of pulmonary illness and disease. 49

To provide adult smokers with some flavour choices, the Alberta government should consider allowing tobacco and nicotine flavourings in vaping products.

Prohibit the sale of flavoured waterpipe/shisha tobacco.

Flavoured waterpipe tobacco is currently exempt from the flavoured tobacco ban despite high rates of flavoured shisha use among Alberta youth.

Waterpipe use is growing in popularity in Alberta and Canada, particularly among youth.50 The wide availability of flavoured shisha tobacco is contributing to this problem. Flavoured shisha has become one of the three most common form of flavoured tobacco product consumed by youth in Canada.51 Waterpipe use among youth is strongly associated with the use of other forms of tobacco (along with alcohol and illicit drugs)52,53,54 and that Canadian waterpipe users are primarily young people.55

Increase tobacco taxes and tax vaping products.

Raising the purchase price of tobacco products is the single most effective measure available to reduce tobacco use, particularly among youth. Tobacco tax increases help prevent initiation and provide additional motivation for all tobacco users to quit and/or reduce consumption.

Vaping products should be taxed in a similar manner to tobacco in order to protect Alberta kids from nicotine addiction. Just as tobacco taxes reduce youth consumption of tobacco a vaping products tax can be expected to have the same effect on youth users of vaping products.

Improve the enforcement of tobacco and vaping legislation.

a) Designate a provincial enforcement agency
A provincial enforcement authority such as the Alberta Liquor and Gaming and Liquor Commission or another suitable authority should be assigned to the active enforcement of tobacco and vaping product sales to minors.

b) Conduct regular and random inspections
Enforcement officers should conduct regular and random inspections of tobacco and vaping product retailers with the assistance of underage test shoppers. Health Canada hired underage test shoppers to enforce federal tobacco legislation in Alberta for over 15 years.

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Complete the survey

Once you have reviewed the above information, please complete the Alberta government survey on proposed tobacco and vaping legislation. The survey will be open until November 29, 2019.

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Thank you for taking action to protect Alberta kids!


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[2] Health Canada. Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 2016-2017. June 2018. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey.html

[3]. Health Canada. Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 2016-2017. June 2018. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey.html

[4] Hammond D, Reid JL, Rynard VL, et al. Prevalence of vaping and smoking among adolescents in Canada, England, and the United States: repeat national cross sectional surveys. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed). 2019;365:l2219. doi:10.1136/bmj.l2219.

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[7] Saebo, Gunnar., and Scheffels, Janne. Assessing notions of denormalization and renormalization of smoking in light of e-cigarette regulation. International Journal of Drug Policy: 44 (2017): 58-64.

[8] Azagba, S. Baskerville. N.B., Foley, K. Susceptibility to cigarette smoking among middle and high school e-cigarette users in Canada. Preventative Medicine 103. 2017. 14-19.

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[20].  Alberta Health Services. Let’s Talk About…Hookah. http://www.albertaquits.ca/files/AB/files/library/HookahFINAL(1).pdf

[21]. Action on Smoking & Health, Municipal Bylaw Chart October 2015 http://www.ash.ca/municipal_bylaw_chart

[22] Chu, A.K., Kaufman, P., Chaiton, M. Prevalence of Involuntary Environmental Cannabis and Tobacco Smoke Exposure in Multi-Unit Housing. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2019. 16, 3332.

[23] Chu, A.K., Kaufman, P., Chaiton, M. Prevalence of Involuntary Environmental Cannabis and Tobacco Smoke Exposure in Multi-Unit Housing. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2019. 16, 3332.

[24] Kernoghan, A., Lambraki, I., Pieters, K., & Garcia, J.M. (2014). Smoke-Free Housing: A Review of the Evidence. Toronto, Ontario: Program Training and Consultation Centre and the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo.

[25] Kernoghan, A., Lambraki, I., Pieters, K., & Garcia, J.M. (2014). Smoke-Free Housing: A Review of the Evidence. Toronto, Ontario: Program Training and Consultation Centre and the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo.

[26] Kernoghan, A., Lambraki, I., Pieters, K., & Garcia, J.M. (2014). Smoke-Free Housing: A Review of the Evidence. Toronto, Ontario: Program Training and Consultation Centre and the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo.

[27]. Earnscliffe Strategy Group on behalf of Health. Qualitative and Quantitative Research on Perceptions of Nicotine Final Report. 2019

[28]. Ontario Tobacco Research Unit. Strategies Affecting Tobacco Vendor Compliance with Youth Access Laws: A Review of the Literature. October 2013. http://otru.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/special_vendor_compliance.pdf

[29]. Health Canada, Evaluation of Retailers' Behaviour Towards Certain Youth Access-to-Tobacco Restrictions (Final Report Findings: 2005).  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/pubs/tobac-tabac/eval-2005/part-a_section1-3-eng.php

[30]. Health Canada. Evaluation of Retailers Behaviour of Certain Youth-Access-to-Tobacco Restrictions, 2014; June 2015.  http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/science-research-sciences-recherches/data-donnees/survey-sondage/summary-sommaire-2014-eng.php

[31]. Health Canada. Evaluation of Retailers Behaviour of Certain Youth-Access-to-Tobacco Restrictions, 2014; June 2015.  http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/science-research-sciences-recherches/data-donnees/survey-sondage/summary-sommaire-2014-eng.php

[32]. Earnscliffe Strategy Group on behalf of Health. Qualitative and Quantitative Research on Perceptions of Nicotine Final Report. 2019

[33]. Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms Scientific Working Group. (2018). Canadian substance use costs and harms (2007-2014). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.

[34]. Health Canada. Talking with your teen about vaping: a tip sheet for parents. July 2019. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/publications/healthy-living/talking-teen-vaping-tip-sheet-parents.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc_en&utm_content=parents_1&utm_campaign=vapingprevention2019&utm_term=%2Bvaping%20%2Byouth

[35]. Pacula, R. L, Kilmer, B, Wagenaar, A. C., et al. Developing Public Health Regulations for Marijuana: Lessons from Alcohol and Tobacco. American Journal of Public Health 2014; 104(6), 1021-1028. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301766.

[36]. Cho YJ, Thrasher JF, Reid JL, Hitchman S, Hammond D. Youth self-reported exposure to and perceptions of vaping advertisements: Findings from the 2017 International Tobacco Control Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey. Preventive Medicine. 2019;126:105775. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105775.

[37]. Cho YJ, Thrasher JF, Reid JL, Hitchman S, Hammond D. Youth self-reported exposure to and perceptions of vaping advertisements: Findings from the 2017 International Tobacco Control Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey. Preventive Medicine. 2019;126:105775. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105775

[38] Padon, A.A eta al. A Randomized Trial of the Effect of Youth Appealing E-Cigarette Advertising on Susceptibility to Use E-Cigarettes Among Youth. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2018: 954-961.

[39]. Cho YJ, Thrasher JF, Reid JL, Hitchman S, Hammond D. Youth self-reported exposure to and perceptions of vaping advertisements: Findings from the 2017 International Tobacco Control Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey. Preventive Medicine. 2019;126:105775. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105775

[40]. Cho YJ, Thrasher JF, Reid JL, Hitchman S, Hammond D. Youth self-reported exposure to and perceptions of vaping advertisements: Findings from the 2017 International Tobacco Control Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey. Preventive Medicine. 2019;126:105775. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105775.

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[52].  Jackson, D & Aveyard, P. Waterpipe smoking in students: Prevalence, risk factors, symptoms of addiction, and smoke intake. Evidence from one British university. BMC Public Health 2008; 8:174.

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[55]. Dugas, E. et. al. Water-Pipe Smoking Among North American Youths. Pediatrics Vol. 125 No. 6 June 1, 2010 pp. 1184 -1189