Alberta addresses the health harms of smoking and vaping
New legislation would prevent and reduce the use of tobacco and vaping products, especially among youth, and help Albertans lead healthier, longer lives.
Bill 19, the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Amendment Act, follows a review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act led by MLA Jeremy Nixon in response to the increase in vaping, smoking and tobacco use in Alberta. The review engaged almost 10,000 Albertans.
The review resulted in valuable recommendations to address the alarming rise in vaping among young Albertans. Currently, Alberta is the only province without vaping legislation.
“This proposed legislation sends a strong message to youth, and anyone who thinks it is OK to supply them with vaping products – there will be fines for possession and consumption. Selling or giving these products to minors will have consequences. Reducing health harms by keeping vaping products out of the hands of youth is a priority for both me and this government, and it’s what Albertans asked us to do.” Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health
Evidence shows that vaping has immediate and long-term health risks, such as lung damage, nicotine poisoning and addiction. Albertans who smoke or vape also appear to be at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19.
“Thank you to everyone who participated in our consultations, wrote in, or completed our survey. Your insights and solutions were truly inspiring. Bill 19 reflects the feedback we received and ensures that we are taking the right steps to protect our youth from both the known and yet-to-be-known harms of vaping.” Jeremy Nixon, MLA for Calgary-Klein
The proposed act specifically addresses youth vaping, and would add enforceable restrictions on the possession, promotion, display, sale and use of these products, in alignment with tobacco laws. It would also include the expansion of smoke and vape-free areas, especially at places frequented by children and youth.
Along with individual harms, health costs for Alberta as a result of the use of tobacco products are estimated at $6 billion over the next four years.
Summary of proposed legislation
Minimum age for purchasing, possessing or using vaping products would align with tobacco products (18 years and older).
In convenience stores and gas stations, vaping displays, advertisements and promotion would need to align with tobacco restrictions.
Aligning places where vaping and tobacco products can not be used will reduce confusion for the public and law enforcement. New places where vaping and smoking will not be allowed include:
on hospital, school or child care properties
on playgrounds, sports or playing fields, skateboard or bicycle parks, public outdoor pools or splash pads, zoos and outdoor theatres
Restrictions on the locations of vaping product sales will align with tobacco restrictions, and include:
public post-secondary institutions
stores where pharmacies are located
vending machines or temporary facilities
Alberta’s proposed legislation will establish the authority to consider restrictions on flavoured vape if it is not covered by potential federal legislation.
“We thank the Alberta government and the Minister of Health for introducing legislation to help curb the youth vaping epidemic. Effective vaping legislation will be aligned with existing tobacco legislation to the greatest extent possible in order to provide maximum protection for youth. The Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act has contributed to achieving the lowest smoking rates among adults and youth on record in Alberta." Les Hagen, executive director, Action on Smoking & Health
“This legislation is long overdue and serves as an additional deterrent to limit young people’s access to harmful vaping products. School boards across Alberta welcome additional restrictions that will keep our children safer and healthier at school and in their communities.” Lorrie Jess, president, Alberta School Boards’ Association
“As a municipality, it is helpful to know that we would be supported by provincial legislation in tackling these issues together. This legislation is effective in striking the balance between allowing adults the freedom to make their own decisions, and protecting consumers, residents and especially our children’s health. Thank you to MLA Jeremy Nixon for his engagement on this file, and thank you to the provincial government for taking decisive action to protect the health of Albertans.” Peter Brown, mayor, City of Airdrie
Alberta’s Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act review was led by MLA Jeremy Nixon from Oct. 25 to Dec 4.
About 250 people participated in 41 consultation sessions across Alberta, including health experts, municipalities, educators, enforcement, youth, businesses and industry.
More than 9,500 individuals responded to an online survey.
The review findings are summarized in a report.
Teen vaping rates (used in past 30 days) surged from eight per cent in 2014-15 to 22 per cent in 2016-17 and to 30 per cent in 2018-19 (Grades 10-12).
Recent vape-related lung illness and deaths in the U.S. and Canada highlight that other health impacts of vaping are yet to be determined.
Addiction to tobacco products is the leading cause of preventable illness, disability and death in Alberta and yet the prevalence of smoking in Alberta is second highest in Canada.
In 2018-19, 15.6 per cent of Albertans aged 18 or older indicated they smoked cigarettes daily or occasionally.
Provincial Press Release June 2, 2020 @ 3:01 PM