Monday, March 31, 2008


New Tobacco Laws Promote
A Healthier BC

New regulations that restrict the promotion and sale of tobacco products, and ban smoking in indoor public spaces and workplaces take effect in British Columbia on March 31, Health Minister George Abbott announced today.

“These new regulations bring significant and positive change to B.C. and are a great step toward our goals of reducing tobacco use and the effects of second-hand smoke on British Columbians,” said Abbott. “We know that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke and by ensuring that public spaces and work places are smoke-free we are working to create the healthiest environment for all British Columbians and to reduce the impact of tobacco use on our health system.”

The new regulations fall under the Tobacco Control Act and ban:

  • Smoking in all indoor public spaces and work places, with exemptions made for the ceremonial use of tobacco by Aboriginal people;
  • Smoking within three metres of public and workplace doorways, open windows or air intakes;
  • Tobacco sales in public buildings including: hospitals and health facilities, universities and colleges, athletic and recreational facilities, and provincial government buildings; and
  • Display and promotion of tobacco products in all places where tobacco is sold that are accessible to youth under 19.

The new provincial regulations will establish a baseline that landlords, businesses, municipalities and health authorities can choose to exceed to fit the needs of their community, clients and population. Unless prohibited by municipal regulations, smoking will still be allowed on the outdoor patios of restaurants and bars, as long as that patio area is not substantially enclosed.

“These new regulations will do more to protect British Columbians from the deadly effects of second-hand smoke and that is great news for this province,” said Scott McDonald, executive director of the B.C. Lung Association. “Youth are particularly vulnerable, and making it more difficult for those under 19 to access tobacco products is a good step forward in protecting the respiratory health of our children.”

Enforcement officers, employed by the provincial health authorities, will be responsible for the day-to-day enforcement of the new tobacco regulations, and smokers or businesses who fail to comply with the smoke-free provision may be subject to a fine.

The new legislation supports the Province’s larger tobacco control strategy. This tobacco strategy aims to further reduce B.C.’s smoking rates and to improve the health of British Columbians. Recent initiatives of the tobacco control strategy include the September 2007 implementation of legislation that bans tobacco use in schools and on school grounds and the introduction of a provincewide policy that will see all health authority facilities in B.C. smoke-free by October 2008. Government also made a commitment in this year’s throne speech to implement legislation that will ban smoking in vehicles when children are present.

The Ministry of Health also funds the free smoking cessation programs and QuitNow by Phone, which are available, with translation services in 130 languages, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all British Columbians.

For more information on tobacco control in B.C., please visit the Tobacco Control Program’s website at

High-quality audio clips of Abbott speaking about the new tobacco regulations are available to the media at


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