Last updated: July 20, 2021
Canada became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 27, 2005.
Smoke Free Places
Smoking restrictions in workplaces and public places are generally the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments (Canada has 10 provinces and three territories), as well as municipal governments. Under federal law, smoking is prohibited in all federal government workplaces, with a few limited exceptions for residential spaces and workspaces to which only one person normally has access during a shift (such as vehicular workspaces). Federally-regulated workplaces include the federal government and federal government institutions (e.g., armed forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Crown corporations, federal prisons), as well as certain commercial sectors including transportation, broadcasting, telecommunications, and banking. Other workplaces and public places fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces, territories, and municipalities. Under sub-national legislation, smoking is prohibited in virtually all indoor public places and workplaces with the limited exception of designated smoking rooms in group living facilities, long-term care facilities, and specified hotel rooms.
Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
Most forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are prohibited, with a few limited exceptions. Tobacco products may be advertised at adult-only venues and through direct mail to named adults. In addition, cross-border advertising is not restricted. Although sponsorship by the tobacco industry is not completely prohibited, publicity of the sponsorship is prohibited.
Tobacco Packaging and Labeling
As of February 7, 2020, plain packaging is required for all tobacco products. Rotating pictorial health warnings must occupy 75 percent of principal display areas. There are some exceptions to this requirement: bidis and smokeless tobacco products must display text-only warnings; and cigar bundles and boxes and pipe tobacco are required to carry a health warning of a specified font size, which in some instances may be less than 30 percent of the principal display area. Misleading packaging and labeling, including terms such as “light” and “ultra” and other signs, is prohibited.
Cigarette Contents and Disclosures
The law regulates specified contents of cigarettes, including banning sugars and sweeteners; menthol, mint, and spearmint; spices and herbs; ingredients that create the impression of health benefits; ingredients associated with energy and vitality; and coloring agents. The law requires that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products.
The law restricts the sale of tobacco products via vending machines. The law prohibits the sale of single cigarettes and small packets of cigarettes. There are some location-based sales restrictions at the provincial level. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
The law permits the sale of e-cigarettes. Restrictions on e-cigarette use in indoor workplaces and public places generally fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces, territories, and municipalities. Under federal law, the use of e-cigarettes is prohibited in places where smoking is prohibited, which includes all federal government workplaces with a few limited exceptions for residential spaces and workspaces to which only one person normally has access during a shift (such as vehicular workspaces). Advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of e-cigarettes are restricted, as is product display at points of sale. Text-only health warnings are required on product packaging. The sale of e-cigarettes is prohibited to persons under the age of 18. Some sub-national jurisdictions have more restrictions on sales than the federal level.
Heated Tobacco Products
The sale of heated tobacco products (HTPs) is allowed. Under federal law, smoking restrictions apply to HTPs. Smoking restrictions in public places fall mainly under the jurisdiction of the provinces, territories, and municipalities. The law prohibits most advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco inserts and devices. Text-only health warnings are required to cover 50 percent of the front and back of tobacco insert packaging. Health warnings on packaging for devices are not required. Plain packaging is required on all tobacco products, which, by definition, includes tobacco inserts and devices.
Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation
The Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (formerly the "Tobacco Act") and the Non-smokers’ Health Act are the primary pieces of tobacco control legislation in Canada. The Tobacco and Vaping Products Act regulates the manufacture; sale; packaging and labeling; and advertising, promotion and sponsorship of e-cigarettes and tobacco products, including HTPs. The following regulations were issued pursuant to the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act: 1) Tobacco Access Regulations (sales to minors and product display); 2) Tobacco Reporting Regulations and amendments (reporting by the tobacco industry to government); 3) Tobacco Product Information Regulations (packaging and labeling); 4) Stamping and Marking of Tobacco Products Regulations and amendments; 5) Promotion of Tobacco Products and Accessories Regulations (Prohibited Terms); and 6) Tobacco Products Labelling Regulations (Cigarettes and Little Cigars).
Smoking restrictions in public places generally fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. Under sub-national legislation, smoking is prohibited in virtually all indoor public places and workplaces with the limited exception of designated smoking rooms in group living facilities, long-term care facilities, and specified hotel rooms. The Non-smokers’ Health Act regulates smoking in federal workplaces and on common carriers. The Non-smokers' Health Regulations were issued pursuant to the Non-smoker’s Health Act and further regulate smoking in federal workplaces.
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.