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History of tobacco control

The Canadian Cancer Society has been at the forefront of tobacco control advocacy for decades by advocating for important health policy changes. As a result of extensive advocacy to government, CCS has been successful at influencing numerous tobacco-related issues, including bans on indoor smoking in public places, restricting cigarette advertising and restricting flavoured tobacco.

The list below highlights some of the biggest tobacco control changes in Canada since 2000.

While significant progress to reduce tobacco use has been made, lots of work remains to be done. CCS will continue to advocate for stronger regulations and programs to help reduce smoking rates and reduce the rates of lung cancer in Canada.

  • 2000s
    2000  • Canada becomes first country to require picture warnings on tobacco packages, setting a world-wide precedent, with regulations adopted in 2000 and in effect in 2001. There are now more than 115 countries/jurisdictions that have followed the Canadian model
    • The Canadian Cancer Society establishes Smokers' Helpline in Ontario, providing smokers a toll-free service for assistance on how to quit, a service that would later be extended to several other provinces/territories
    • Manitoba and Northwest Territories increase tobacco taxes
    2001 

    • Saskatchewan becomes first province to adopt legislation, with effect in 2002, prohibiting visible display of tobacco products at retail, and the second jurisdiction in the world to do so. All other provinces/territories would later also ban visible tobacco displays at retail
    • Canada, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Yukon increase tobacco taxes
    • British Columbia becomes first province to file medicare cost recovery lawsuit, and to be followed in subsequent years by all 9 other provinces

    2002  • Canada and all 13 provinces/territories increase tobacco taxes
    2003 

    • British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Northwest Territories increase tobacco taxes
    • Federal Tobacco Act bans tobacco sponsorship at sport and arts events

    2004  • Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories and Nunavut become first provinces/territories to adopt legislation making all restaurants and bars 100% smoke-free – all provinces and territories have now done so
    • Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador increase tobacco taxes
    2005
    • Newfoundland becomes the first province/state in the world to ban smoking on restaurant and bar patios
    • Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador increase tobacco taxes
    2006

    • Nova Scotia bans smoking on restaurant and bar patios
    • Ontario and Quebec ban smoking in all restaurants and bars
    • Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut increase tobacco tax

    2007
    • Nova Scotia and Alberta increase tobacco tax
    • Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upholds national advertising restrictions, sponsorship ban, and picture-based health warnings as constitutional
    2008
    • Nova Scotia becomes first province to ban smoking in vehicles with kids
    • Alberta bans smoking on restaurant and bar patios
    • Yukon bans smoking in vehicles with kids
    • Prince Edward Island and Yukon increase tobacco tax
    2009

    • Canada extends advertising restrictions to include a ban on tobacco advertising in magazines, newspapers and other publications
    • British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island ban smoking in vehicles with kids
    • British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories increase tobacco tax

  • 2010s
    2010 • Canada becomes first country to ban all flavours (except menthol) in cigarettes and cigarillos
    • Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan ban smoking in vehicles with kids
    • Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Northwest Territories increase tobacco tax
    2011 • Newfoundland and Labrador bans smoking in vehicles with kids
    • Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Northwest Territories increase tobacco taxes
    2012  • Canada increases required graphic warnings on cigarette packaging to cover 75% of the package front and back and adds a toll-free quitline number as part of the health warning
    • Manitoba, Quebec and Nunavut increase tobacco taxes
    2013  • Canada, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador increase taxes on tobacco products
    2014 • Alberta bans smoking in vehicles with kids
    • Canada, British Columbia, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador and Northwest Territories increase tobacco taxes
    • Vancouver restricts the use of e-cigarettes in public places
    2015 • Canada commits to the implementation of plain packaging for tobacco products
    • Nova Scotia becomes the first jurisdiction in the world to ban flavoured tobacco, including menthol
    • Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island increase taxes on tobacco products
    • British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island adopt e-cigarette legislation banning use where smoking is banned, banning sales to minors, banning displays/advertising at retail, and banning sales where tobacco sales are banned (for Ontario, sales to minors in effect 2016, most other provisions in effect in 2018, ban on retail displays/ads in effect in 2020 )
    • New Brunswick bans smoking on restaurants and bar patios, children’s playgrounds, sports fields, provincial parks and beaches
    • Ontario bans smoking on patios, playgrounds and sports fields
    2016 • Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador increase tobacco taxes
    • Quebec bans smoking in vehicles with children, on restaurant and bar patios, sport fields and children’s playgrounds
    • Quebec bans flavoured tobacco, including menthol
    • Lloydminster, Saskatchewan requires businesses to hold a license to sell tobacco or e-cigarettes, using the annual fee to support non-profit groups in their efforts to reduce tobacco use
    2017 • Canada bans menthol cigarettes and little cigars across the country
    • Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut increase tobacco taxes
    • Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador ban flavoured tobacco, including menthol
    • Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador e-cigarette legislation come into effect
    2018 • Canada strengthens the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy with an additional ongoing investment of $18 million per year and increases taxes on tobacco products
    • Federal government establishes objective of under 5% tobacco use by 2035
    • Nova Scotia bans smoking on sports fields, children’s playgrounds, provincial parks, beaches
    • Nunavut bans smoking on sports fields, children’s playgrounds and patios
    • British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Yukon and the federal government increase tobacco taxes
    • Saskatchewan bans smoking in all social housing units
    • Canada extends menthol ban to all tobacco products across the country
    2019 • Canada implements the world’s best tobacco plain packaging regulations. The regulations also ban slims and superslims cigarettes and packaging, which are marketed in a way that specifically appeals to young women and girls
    • British Columbia announces comprehensive strategy to reduce youth vaping
    • Alberta increases tobacco taxes
  • 2020s
    2020 • Prince Edward Island becomes the first province to establish the minimum sales age for tobacco and e-cigarettes at age 21
    • British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island increase tobacco taxes
    • Yukon and Northwest Territories ban flavoured tobacco
    • Federal and British Columbia regulations ban e-cigarette advertising anywhere where youth are exposed
    • British Columbia and Nova Scotia implement a maximum nicotine concentration level of 20 mg/ml for e-cigarettes
    • Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island ban flavours (except tobacco flavour) in e-cigarettes
    • Prince Edward Island requires e-cigarettes to only be sold in specialty stores. British Columbia requires flavoured e-cigarettes to be sold in adult only premises. Ontario requires higher nicotine e-cigarettes and most flavoured e-cigarettes to be sold only in specialty stores
    • E-cigarette legislation implemented in Saskatchewan, Yukon and Northwest Territories, and adopted in Alberta
    • British Columbia and Nova Scotia implement an e-cigarette tax
    • British Columbia regulations restrict e-cigarettes to be packaged in a plain manner
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