Tobacco and smoking reduction changes in 2015

Learn about the changes in the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act and tobacco restrictions that came into force in 2015.

Flavoured tobacco prohibited

On June 1, 2015, the sale of flavoured tobacco products was prohibited in Alberta with some exceptions, and some tobacco products are required to be sold in minimum package sizes.

The changes to the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act applies to all parts of the province, including First Nations reserves, subject only to superior or overriding legislation.

These changes are intended to help prevent youth from accessing and using flavoured tobacco products. Since youth tend to like flavoured tobacco, and industry has fed the demand, the Legislature legally bans the sale of flavoured tobacco products in Alberta almost in entirety.

Flavoured tobacco products

A flavoured tobacco product means a tobacco product that:

  1. has a characterizing flavour (has a clearly noticeable smell or taste other than tobacco)
  2. is packaged or labelled as being flavoured
  3. is listed under the regulations as a flavoured tobacco product

The Alberta government does not provide testing nor recognize any particular testing methodology to determine whether tobacco has a characterizing flavour. Therefore, those subject to the legislation must consider appropriate evidence and standards recognized by the court in the event of prosecution. A flavour that can be perceived by the senses as distinct is at risk of violating the law.

Products that cannot be sold in Alberta

Examples of characterizing flavours banned include, but are not limited to: fruit, chocolate, honey, spice, clove, herb, alcohol, candy, and vanilla.

Sweetened tobacco products that have a clearly noticeable smell or taste (other than tobacco) would fall under products that have a characterizing flavour. Tobacco products that are labelled as “sweet” or “sweets” would fall under products that are represented as being flavoured.

Clove flavoured tobacco products are prohibited from being sold in Alberta unless they meet the exemption criteria.

Products exempt from ban

The following flavoured tobacco products are allowed to be sold:

  • cigars that have a retail price of more than $4.00 each and weigh 5 grams or more
  • pipe tobacco

The sale of flavoured products that are not composed of tobacco (for example, rolling papers and cigar filters) will continue to be permitted.

Package size requirements

Minimum package requirements and tobacco products required to be sold in minimum package sizes are:

Product  Minimum number of units*
Cigarettes  20 units per package
Designated cigars (meaning a cigar that has a cigarette filter or weighs more than 1.4 grams and less than 5 grams excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip) that have a retail price of less than $4.00 per unit, other than little cigars as defined in the Tobacco Act (Canada).  4 units per package
Cigars that are little cigars as defined in the Tobacco Act (Canada).  20 units per package
Bidis (a tobacco product that is wrapped in the leaf of the plant Diospyros melanoxylon (temburni) or Diospyros exculpra (tendu) or is sold or offered for sale under the name “bidi”, “beedi” or “beedie” or any other variation of that name).  20 units per package
Blunt wraps (a sheet, including a sheet that is rolled, that is composed of natural or reconstituted tobacco or natural and reconstituted tobacco and that is ready to be filled).  20 units per package

* A "unit" refers to an individual tobacco product. A pack/box of 20 tobacco products would not be considered a unit; it would be considered a package/box with 20 units.

Enforcement

Municipal police, RCMP and authorized peace officers will enforce this legislation. Complaints should be directed to your local police agency.

Fines

Fines for non-compliance range from $100–$500. 
  
If an offence is prosecuted in court, fines can range from $1,000 to $100,000 depending on the type of offence and whether or not it is a first or repeat offence.

Legislation

Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act PDF icon