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Tobacco Products: Out Of Sight - Out Of Mind

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Tobacco Products: Out Of Sight - Out Of Mind

McGuinty Government Protects Children and Helps Smokers Quit

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

As of May 31, 2008, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits the display of tobacco products where they are sold. 

Research suggests that removing the display of tobacco products at the point of sale can help prevent young people from starting to smoke.

Selling cigarettes where candy and snacks are sold makes cigarettes seem normal to young people. The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit reports that "in an Ontario survey of youth aged 11 to 18 years, 85% of respondents spontaneously recalled convenience stores as a place where they had seen cigarettes, over 75% said they visited convenience stores at least once a week, and over 40% spontaneously named at least one cigarette brand."

Studies suggest that removing point of sale advertising such as power walls can help smokers try to quit and reduce relapses. A power wall is a wall of cigarette packages that is typically behind the counter wherever those products are sold. Removing power walls will eliminate a powerful trigger for impulse cigarette purchases.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario, killing over 13,000 Ontarians every year. Tobacco-related diseases have been estimated to account for: $1.6 billion in direct healthcare costs and $4.4 billion in productivity losses each year.

The government made a commitment to reduce tobacco consumption by 20 per cent before the end of 2007. The latest figures indicate that this target was achieved ahead of schedule. Between 2003 and 2006, there was a 31.8 per cent decline in tobacco consumption.

In the 2008 Budget, the Ontario government committed to a permanent Retail Sales Tax exemption for nicotine replacement therapies to help Ontario smokers to quit.

Quick Facts

  • Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco; and other specialty tobacco products, including chewing tobacco, snus and snuff.
  • A similar ban is in effect in Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. Quebec’s tobacco display ban also comes into effect on May 31, 2008.

Additional Resources


“The tobacco display ban is about saving lives and reducing healthcare costs by preventing young people from starting to smoke and by helping smokers to quit. Young people will no longer be exposed to the open display and promotion of tobacco products in stores, and there will be no more impulse buying triggered by power walls.”

Margarett Best

Minister of Health Promotion

“Public health units are reporting that 95 percent of businesses will be ready for the May 31st ban on tobacco products. Since our goal is to seek voluntary compliance, tobacco enforcement officers will focus on educating and working with tobacco vendors as the first step in a protocol of progressive enforcement.”

Dr. David Williams

Chief Medical Officer, Ontario Health

“We know that visual and environmental cues trigger cravings and relapse in smokers who are trying to quit or have recently quit. Many smokers have difficulty visiting their corner store when trying to quit because of the power walls. A display ban has great potential to help these smokers stay quit.”

Peter Selby

Clinical Director, Addiction Programs at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health