Tobacco Reduction

What is tobacco reduction about?

Reducing the number of people who smoke has positive health, social, environmental, and financial implications. The majority of smokers want to quit and are looking for helpful tools. Though fewer youth are smoking, too many are still starting. While many programs have successfully reduced smoking rates, it remains important to protect all people from second-hand smoke. One of the most effective ways to keep children and youth from starting to smoke is to provide them with smoke-free environments where they live, play, and go to school.

Why is tobacco reduction important for health and well-being and healthy communities?

The majority of British Columbians are non-smokers: 86% of B.C. residents do not smoke. However, tobacco use remains the single most preventable cause of death and disease in Canada.

  • Tobacco use kills approximately 6,000 British Columbians each year, despite B.C. having the lowest smoking rate in Canada.i
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke causes at least 1,000 deaths per year in Canada from lung cancer and heart disease.ii
  • Second-hand smoke is the single largest source of indoor air pollution and contains a mixture of nearly 4,000 chemicals – more than 50 of which are carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).iii

Why does tobacco reduction matter for B.C. local governments?

Local governments play an important role in protecting the health of all citizens by taking actions that reduce the harmful impact of tobacco use in communities. Bylaws, policies, programs, and partnerships – such as with health authorities – can help to ensure youth do not start to smoke, assist smokers to quit, and protect people from exposure to second-hand smoke.

Demand is on the rise for smoke-free outdoor public spaces and smoke-free housing options. While the Tobacco Control Act sets a provincial baseline for protection from second-hand smoke, many local governments in B.C. have provided greater protection through smoke-free bylaws.

Take Action

Policy and Planning

Implement no-smoking bylaws by prohibiting smoking in outdoor public places where people gather, on restaurant and pub patios, in parks and on trails, on local government properties, both the grounds and buildings, and at health care facilities and post-secondary institutions.

The Village of Lumby, in partnership with Interior Health, the University of British Columbia Okanagan, and the Canadian Cancer Society, passed a bylaw that bans smoking on the Salmon Trail, within 3 metres of bus stops, and in any park or green space including playgrounds, playing fields, spray park, pool, skate and-or bike park or trails.

Support more smoke-free housing options through the building approval process for both private- and public-sector housing, giving consideration to the housing security of vulnerable people who continue to be addicted to tobacco. Smoke-free secondary suites in smoke-free houses can also be encouraged.

Ensure new local government buildings meet LEED smoke-free requirements.

Ensure most new public-sector housing is smoke free (especially complexes that house children), in jurisdictions that have this responsibility.


Create a broad-based community coalition to build the case for tobacco reduction initiatives and be early adopters and validators of new local government policies. This could include health authority staff, community groups, non-profit organizations, businesses, and others.

Partnerships and Programs

Begin a public education program to build support for smoke-free public places, including smoke-free parks, playgrounds, and playing fields, by posting signs to raise awareness of the community smoke-free bylaw at sites where children and youth play.

Work with health authorities to coordinate bylaws, policies, and programs. Health authority staff are experienced in all aspects of tobacco control.

Work with non-profit and community-based organizations with strong ties to the community to support tobacco reduction and smoke-free policies, and promote smoke-free events.

Host smoking cessation programs at community centres.

Support employees to quit smoking and foster a healthy smoke-free workplace.

Work with retailers to ensure they are not selling tobacco to youth, especially stores that may have a high percentage of youth as customers.