The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law

The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law

Edited by Andrew D. Mitchell and Tania Voon

Tobacco use represents a critical global health challenge. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco kills nearly 6 million people a year, with the toll expected to rise to 8 million annually over the next two decades. Written by health and legal experts from institutions around the globe, The Global Tobacco Epidemic and the Law examines the key areas of domestic and international law affecting the regulation of tobacco.

Chapter 12: Tobacco control in Canada

Rob Cunningham

Subjects: law - academic, health law, international economic law, trade law, international investment law


Canada has seen tremendous progress in tobacco control. Current smoking (daily or occasional) among Canadians aged 15+ has decreased from 50 per cent in 1965 to 25 per cent in 1999 to 17 per cent in 2011, while daily smoking has decreased from 42 per cent in 1965 to 21 per cent in 1999 and 14 per cent in 2011. Among 15–19-year-olds, current smoking was 46 per cent in 1965 and 51 per cent in 1974, decreasing to 28 per cent in 1999 and to 12 per cent in 2011. In the early 1970s and early 1980s, Canada had the highest per capita cigarette consumption in the world. Since then, tobacco use has decreased considerably, as governments in Canada have sought to implement a comprehensive strategy that includes taxation, legislation and programming. Canada (population 35 million) is a federal country, with ten provinces and three territories. Tobacco control legislation has been enacted at both federal and provincial/territorial levels. In addition, municipalities have adopted bylaws, particularly regarding smoke-free places. Twelve of Canada’s provinces/territories are common-law jurisdictions. The thirteenth, predominantly French-speaking Quebec, has a civil code. The constitutional division of powers between the federal government and the provinces dates from 1867, the year Canada was formed. In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became part of the Canadian Constitution, providing a new means for laws to be potentially invalidated as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of Canada is Canada’s highest court.

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