Tobacco reduction – Retailers

What you need to know

Alberta’s Tobacco Reduction Act came into effect on January 1, 2008, amending the former Smoke-free Places Act. The Tobacco Reduction Act:
  • Prohibits smoking in all public places and workplaces since January 1, 2008.
  • Bans retail displays, advertising and promotion of tobacco products effective July 1, 2008.
  • Prohibits the sale of tobacco products from all health care facilities, public post-secondary campuses, pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy effective January 1, 2009.

Under this Act, tobacco products include any products composed in whole or in part of tobacco, including tobacco leaves or any extract of tobacco leaves. This includes:

  • Cigarettes;
  • Cigars;
  • Cigarillos;
  • Pipe tobacco; and
  • Specialty tobacco products like chewing tobacco, snus and snuff.

Display and storage of tobacco products

As of July 1, 2008, no tobacco products may be displayed in a retail store. This means:

  • Tobacco products must be stored and sold in a way that prevents consumers from seeing or handling them before they are purchased.

Tobacco product displays and advertising

Any kind of promotional material that reflects a brand of tobacco product is prohibited in any place tobacco products are sold. Examples of prohibited displays include:

  • Decorative panels or backdrops that feature a brand of tobacco products;
  • Backlit or illuminated panels that include tobacco products and brand indicators;
  • Countertop displays of tobacco products or other products which include a brand indicator; and
  • Any advertisement or promotion that is visible from outside a place tobacco products are sold.

Please note: The display of tobacco product accessories such as humidors, pipes, cigarette holders, cigar clips, lighters and matches is permissible so long as they do not contain tobacco brand indicators.


Tobacco price promotion signs at retail are permissible provided they comply with the requirements prescribed by the Tobacco Reduction regulation. These are:

  • A maximum of one sign per till;
  • A maximum of three signs per location;
  • The text of the sign must not be visible from outside the place;
  • The maximum size of the sign is 968 sq. cm;
  • The sign must be white, except for its text, which must be black;
  • The maximum height of a letter in the sign’s text is 18 mm;
  • The text size and style must be consistent in all parts of the sign, and the text must not contain italics, bold type or underlining; and
  • Signs may include the name and price of a tobacco product but may not contain any other wording, pictures, logos or other illustrations.


The Alberta government recognizes that some businesses primarily sell specialty tobacco products, and as a result an exemption to the display and promotion of tobacco products has been created for tobacconists. The Tobacco Reduction Regulation, Section 10 (1), defines a tobacconist as a person who sells only:

  • Tobacco;
  • Cigars;
  • Cigarettes;
  • Tobacco-related products, including cigarette paper, matches, lighters, cigar and cigarette holders, pipes, pipe cases, pipe cleaners, pouches and humidors.

It is important to note that minors must be prohibited from entering the tobacconist’s premises.

  • If these conditions are met then a retailer would be exempt from Sections 7.1 and 7.2(1)(a) of the Tobacco Reduction Act. These sections apply to interior display and advertising.

A tobacconist may also display a sign visible outside the tobacconist’s retail premises that indicates the name of the tobacconist’s business.


Peace officers within the meaning of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act (this includes police, RCMP and special constables) as well as investigators within the Tobacco Enforcement Unit of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will be enforcing the Tobacco Reduction Act.


A person in contravention of the Tobacco Reduction Act may be subject to fines or tickets.

  • Under the Act, fines range from $1,000 to up to $100,000.

In addition to the fines outlined in the Act, it should also be noted that ticketing under the Provincial Offences Procedure Act is another potential sanction that can be applied for non-compliance.

  • Ticket amounts range from $250 to $500.

Retailers are advised to review the Tobacco Reduction Act and the Provincial Offences Procedure Act Part 4 to understand the specific offences that may be applied or consult legal counsel for clarification.

More information