Tobacco and Smoking Reduction – Questions and Answers

The questions and answers below provide general guidance about the new provisions in the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act PDF icon that came into force on June 1, 2015. Note: The answers provided have no legal authority. The Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act and associated regulation should be used to determine specific legislative requirements. If you need assistance interpreting the legislation, you may wish to seek legal counsel for more specific information.

1. What are the changes to the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act taking place on June 1, 2015?

As of June 1, 2015, the sale of flavoured tobacco products will be prohibited in Alberta with some exceptions – see question #10 for exempt flavoured products

Also as of June 1, 2015, some tobacco products will need to be sold in minimum package sizes – see question #12 for more information.

2. Does this legislation apply to First Nations reserves?

This law applies to all parts of the province, including First Nations reserves, subject only to superior or overriding legislation.

Flavoured tobacco products

3. Why are you banning the sale of flavoured tobacco products?

The legislation is intended to more effectively prevent youth from accessing and using flavoured tobacco products. As youth tend to gravitate towards flavoured tobacco and industry has accommodated such demand, the Legislature has seen fit to legally ban its sale in Alberta almost in entirety.  

4. What is a flavoured tobacco product?

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, or 
  3. is listed under the regulations as a flavoured tobacco product

5. How do you know if something is flavoured?

The Government of Alberta 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. 

6. What are some examples of flavours that cannot be sold in Alberta after June 1, 2015?

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

7. Can sweetened tobacco products be sold in Alberta?

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.

8. Are Kretek (clove) tobacco products impacted?

Clove flavoured tobacco products are prohibited from being sold in Alberta unless they meet the exemption criteria in question #10.

9. Will retailers be compensated for flavoured tobacco product inventory that they have in their store after June 1, 2015?

No, there will be no compensation provided. These changes to the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act PDF icon were announced in November 2014 and proclamation was delayed to allow retailers and wholesalers ample time to sell off remaining inventory

10. What products are exempt from this ban?

The following flavoured tobacco products are allowed to be sold after June 1, 2015:

  • cigars that have a retail price of more than $4.00 each and weigh 5 grams or more
  • pipe tobacco
  • menthol flavoured tobacco products (that do not have an additional characterizing flavour)

The exemption on the sale of menthol flavoured tobacco products will be removed on September 30, 2015.

After June 1, 2015, the sale of flavoured products that are not composed of tobacco (e.g., rolling papers and cigar filters) will continue to be permitted.

11. Is the sale of menthol cigarettes banned, too?

As of September 30, 2015, the exemption for menthol flavored tobacco products will be removed. This 4-month grace period is necessary to allow retailers to deplete their existing stock.

Minimum package size

12. What are the minimum package requirements and what tobacco products are required to be sold in minimum package sizes?

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

13. Who will enforce this legislation?

Municipal Police, RCMP and authorized peace officers will enforce this legislation.

14. How do I report a violation of the new legislation?

Complaints may be directed to your local police agency.

15. What are the fines for people who do not comply with the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act?

Fines range from $100–$500. (See Part 46 of the Procedures Regulation PDF icon for further information on fines)
  
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. (See Section 8 of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act PDF icon for further information on court fines)