Results at a Glance - Evaluation of the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy


  • The FTCS is a comprehensive federal strategy to reduce tobacco-related disease and death in Canada
  • FTCS goals are to: reduce smoking, prevent youth from taking up smoking, and reduce illnesses and deaths associated with smoking in Canada
  • The strategy is led by Health Canada, in partnership with other federal departments and agencies
  • This evaluation assessed relevance and performance of FTCS activities, from April 2012 to March 2016, of: Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Canada Revenue Agency, Public Safety Canada, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police


  • The economic burden of smoking in Canada was an estimated over $18 billionFootnote 1 and an estimated 23% of deaths in Canada were tobacco relatedFootnote 2
  • Although smoking rates are declining, 18% of young adults (20 to 24 years old) smoke daily or occasionallyFootnote 3
  • Indigenous communities have higher smoking rates:
    • 57% of First Nations adults (18 years and older) living on reserve smoke daily or occasionallyFootnote 4
    • 61% of Canada's Inuit population (15 years and older) smoke daily or occasionallyFootnote 5

What the evaluation found

  • The FTCS has helped reduce smoking rates in Canada
  • Stakeholders felt a smoking rate reduction target would have helped measure FTCS success and focus activities on a unified goal. For example, if the World Health Organization target of a 30% reduction in smoking rates by 2025 were applied it would translate to a target smoking rate of 10.6% Canadians (15 years and older)
  • There is a continued need for tobacco control, particularly within certain populations
  • All levels of government have a role in tobacco control
  • There is continued need for federal government leadership in areas such as: reducing smoking rates in at-risk populations; contraband tobacco; promoting common approaches to smoking prevention; and in emerging areas such as electronic cigarettes or vaping
  • The RCMP, CBSA and Health Canada monitor different aspects of contraband tobacco, and there continues to be a need for a consolidated understanding of the contraband tobacco market

Recommendations and responses

1. Explore setting targets for reducing the number of smokers in Canada, and within at-risk populations where smoking is more common.

Response: Health Canada will set targets for the reduction of smokers as part of a renewed approach to tobacco control

2. Identify and communicate areas where the federal government can lead in reducing smoking, given existing provincial, territorial, and municipal actions.

Response: Health Canada will assess the current federal role in tobacco control and explore new areas of responsibility and partnership

3. Explore options for regulating new and emerging tobacco control issues.

Response: Health Canada will continue to develop regulatory initiatives, compliance monitoring and enforcement under the new legislative regime

4. Examine ways to integrate reporting on contraband tobacco to assist Canada-wide analysis of the issue.

Response: The Public Safety Portfolio and key partners will examine current contraband tobacco reporting practices; identify gaps; and make recommendations on the feasibility of integrating reporting to assist Canada-wide analysis of the issue

About this evaluation

This evaluation was completed by the Office of Audit and Evaluation in December 2016. It included document and literature reviews, a review of financial and performance data, interviews with people inside and outside of the government, a media scan, and three case studies

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