AMA response to Bill 19, the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Amendment Act

June 5, 2020

On June 2, the Alberta government released proposed amendments to the Alberta Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act. We commend government for bringing forward legislation in this important public health area and we appreciate the efforts that have been expended to help reduce the health harms related to the use of tobacco, vaping and second hand smoke. Adding restrictions on the possession, promotion, display, sale and use of vaping products will be certainly be helpful.

Having said that, the AMA does feel that there are still some missing elements. The AMA participated in the government’s review process in November 2019, and used the opportunity to share our official position and provide specific recommendations with respect to strengthening the Act.

Upon review of the government’s announcement, we were disappointed to see that the proposed amendments do not appear to include many of the AMA’s recommendations. Specifically, the AMA would have liked to see amendments that included the requirement of a prescription to purchase e-cigarettes and nicotine vaping products. We also strongly advocated for the banning of flavored vaping products as these are the biggest attraction for youth. We recognize and applaud government for enabling regulation of flavored products, and we would like to see that step taken within the next six months.

The AMA had hoped to see stronger restrictions on packaging and advertising, increased taxation rates and restrictions on the levels of nicotine levels in vaping products (view the AMA’s full submission to the Alberta Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act Review).

While the Alberta government’s amendments are definitely a step in the right direction, Alberta’s doctors feel that given the addiction potential of nicotine vaping products, much stronger measures are needed to protect our youth.

Physicians need an active voice on this issue and we would welcome the opportunity to work with the provincial government to develop regulations designed to address the health harms of smoking and curb the youth vaping epidemic.

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.