Advocates for a smoke-free British Columbia

Restricting tobacco REDUCES its use

Despite BC having the lowest smoking rate in the country at 16.2%, tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death – with more than 6000 deaths per year in British Columbia. One proven strategy for reducing tobacco use among both young people and adults is by reducing the number of places where cigarettes and other tobacco products can be sold.
  • Issue

    Despite many steps over the years to regulate the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in BC, buying cigarettes is still as easy as going to the corner grocery store, pharmacy or gas station. For many, buying cigarettes is part and parcel with picking up basics, such as bread, milk and prescriptions. In British Columbia, there are close to 6000 tobacco vendors across the province, many of which are open 24 hours a day. In order to effectively combat the recruitment tactics of the tobacco industry, BC needs to enact strong regulatory controls for the sale of tobacco, and ensure that minors have no access to tobacco products.
  • Challenge

    While it’s illegal for minors to purchase cigarettes in BC, they are clearly having no problems accessing cigarettes. Current smoking rates for youth between the ages of 15 to 19 stands at 10%. With corner grocery stores located in most residential neighbourhoods, youth are still exposed to the sale of it every day. There is a tendency for many grocery stores to locate close to schools, so the grocery store, which can become a place where youth hang out during their lunch break or recess, becomes a place associated with buying not only kid friendly products, but also cigarettes.
  • Recommendations

    We commissioned a report to support provincial government measures to reduce tobacco use by restricting where tobacco products can be sold and making it more difficult for youth to access tobacco. The core recommendation is the establishment of a provincial target to reduce the current number of places allowed to sell tobacco products by 50%. Twelve additional recommendations are intended to assist the government in reaching the provincial target level over a 10 year period.

    Reducing Tobacco Use: A Strategy for the Government of British Columbia Respecting Points of Sale.

    Garry Curtis, Ph.D. Consulting – prepared for the Heart and Stroke Foundation | BC & Yukon and the BC Lung Association, February 2013.

KEY points
  • Selling tobacco in retail stores normalizes smoking

    If you can buy tobacco everywhere, people think it's normal to smoke, especially impressionable youth.

    The less places you see cigarettes, the less often you'll think about smoking.

    And the less ex-smokers see tobacco products, the less likely they are to relapse and go back to smoking.

  • Limiting where tobacco is sold WORKS!