Tobacco and Government Regulation: Who Does What?
All three levels of government regulate various aspects of tobacco manufacturing, marketing, promotion, sale and use.
- Municipalities are allowed to pass by-laws making all workplaces and public places 100% smoke-free following amendments to the Municipal Act in 1994. They have the authority to require proprietors to ensure compliance with the by-law.
For information on the most current developments at the municipal level, please access Tobacco Advocacy: Whats New?
Through the Ontario Tobacco Control Act and the Smoking in the Workplace Act, the government of Ontario:
- regulates the amount of smoking allowed in certain classes of places;
- makes the sale of tobacco products to minors illegal and prescribe related signage and penalties;
- bans vending machines and tobacco sales in pharmacies;
- gives itself the authority to implement plain packaging and a provincial health warning system on packages (this authority has never been used);
- Provincial legislation also makes provincial government workplaces smoke-free.
- Changes to the Ontario Tobacco Control Act and the Smoking in the Workplace Act are expected during the late fall and winter of 2000/01.
For more information on working with your Provincial Government representative, please refer to Tobacco and Government Regulation: Working with Your Provincial Government Representative.
For more information on the most current developments at the provincial level, please access Tobacco Advocacy: Whats New?
The federal government has jurisdiction over several aspects of tobacco use:
- federally-regulated workplaces such as federal government offices and banks are smoke-free under federal legislation;
- various advertising bans or restrictions concerning television, radio, print and sponsorship advertising are in force under federal statutes;
- changes in tobacco tax are traditionally initiated by the federal Finance Minister with agreement from the provinces;
- the regulation of nicotine as a drug, and of tobacco products as hazardous products, is a federal responsibility, as are new package health warnings.
For more information on the most current developments at the federal level, please access Tobacco Advocacy: Whats new?
Tobacco and Government Regulation: Why Should You Participate? top of page
From time to time, staff and volunteers of the major health charities in Ontario have been asked to participate in advocacy campaigns supporting municipal by-laws, provincial legislation, or federal initiatives. These campaigns have often involved the need to present to City Councils or committees of the provincial Legislature, and to speak to local or provincial media. Both groups have raised questions about doing this work. Well address these concerns below:
- I have so many other responsibilities like fundraising and special events that I dont have time to devote to tobacco control.
Effective tobacco control can have a major impact on the disease areas addressed by the major health charities such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, and the Ontario Lung Association. Tobacco control advocacy by agency volunteers and staff reinforce each agencys reputation in the community as a protector of public health. This in turn helps encourage donors to support the charities work, and demonstrates positive results from the expenditure of donors dollars.
- Im not comfortable in getting involved in controversial public issues like tobacco control.
Most members of the media and legislators are sympathetic to many aspects of tobacco control, particularly the need to protect our children from the predatory marketing efforts of the industry, and from exposure to second-hand smoke. Most people agree tobacco taxes should be higher, and many agree we cant afford the cost of treating tobacco-related illness any longer.
Tobacco control advocates are not asked to criticize smokers, nor do they wish to. Rather, they need to describe the facts about the health and economic impacts of tobacco use, point to positive solutions, and demonstrate empathy with smokers - after all, researchers show 7 of 10 smokers are concerned about their habit and/or would like to quit. With increasing stop-smoking resources available, we can help smokers while focussing our concern on the industry and its allies.
- Tobacco is a complicated subject, and I dont have time to do extensive research, put presentations together, and gather facts. In any case, Im not comfortable debating the subject with politicians or others who may know more than I do.
The CCS, HSF, OLA and other health agencies represented by the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco have extensive background materials for presentations of all types, including media releases. We are pleased to assist staff and volunteers in preparing and disseminating them, and in providing background research and talking points. For major committee hearings, news conferences and other public appearances, experts from the agencies are available to present.
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