Regulating tobacco products

Learn how Health Canada regulates the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco products.

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Regulating tobacco products

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in Canada. The Tobacco Act is intended to protect the health of Canadians by:

  • restricting youth access to tobacco products
  • protecting people from inducements to use tobacco products
  • enhancing public awareness of the health hazards of using tobacco products

The Act provides the authority for Health Canada to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco products.

Tobacco products are allowed on the Canadian market if they meet the requirements of the Act and its regulations. This includes:

  • labelling requirements for most tobacco products, such as:
    • health warnings
    • toxic emissions statements
    • health information messages
  • minimum packaging requirements for:
    • cigarettes
    • most cigars
    • blunt wraps
  • a ban on the use of certain flavour additives in:
    • cigarettes
    • most cigars
    • blunt wraps
  • a prohibition on promoting banned flavour additives on product packaging
  • meeting the fire safety requirements under the cigarette ignition propensity standard

We also:

  • regulate the promotion of tobacco products and accessories
  • require tobacco manufacturers and importers to regularly report on their tobacco products and related activities

Promoting and enforcing compliance

To promote industry's compliance with the Act and its regulations, we carry out a range of activities, including:

  • publishing public notices
  • conducting seminars for businesses
  • informing sectors of the industry affected by any newly approved regulations

These activities are intended to encourage tobacco manufacturers, importers and retailers to make well-informed decisions regarding how their products are manufactured, sold, labelled and promoted.

We also carry out inspections of regulated businesses to:

  • verify that their activities are carried out in accordance with the Act and its regulations
  • identify and assess cases of non-compliance

Our tobacco compliance monitoring activities are done by inspectors. They conduct inspections at manufacturer and importer facilities, as well as retail locations across Canada. During inspections, they:

  • perform audits
  • collect samples
  • carry out analysis of tobacco product packaging and of promotional materials

Health Canada also has reviewers who examine reports received from tobacco companies to determine whether they comply with the Tobacco Reporting Regulations.

Enforcement actions may be taken when non-compliance is identified. These actions include:

  • negotiating compliance with the regulated business
  • issuing warning letters
  • seizing products

Collaborating with partners

Health Canada helps to protect your health by working with a wide range of partners and stakeholders, including:

  • non-governmental organizations
  • scientific and research communities
  • federal regulators in other countries
  • provincial and territorial governments
  • other federal government departments
  • international organizations, such as the World Health Organization

Our work with these groups includes:

  • addressing tobacco-related issues that affect multiple countries
  • increasing national collaboration, and policy and programming consistency
  • getting the best advice on policies and regulations through external experts
  • supporting the regulatory bodies of other levels of government in delivering their mandates
  • participating in an international treaty to promote international public health and to provide a Canadian perspective

Engaging and informing Canadians

Health Canada engages and informs Canadians on important issues. We inform you about the health hazards posed by tobacco products and tobacco use in Canada through:

We also engage with Canadians as part of the regulatory process. This can include seeking the views of the public and interested groups through:

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