Alberta - tobacco banned in pharmacies and grocery stores..

January 3, 2009 - Effective January 1, 2009 pharmacies and grocery stores that carry pharmaceuticals are banned from selling tobacco except in gas stations, mall kiosks or separate enclosed spaces. Cigarette sales are also now outlawed in hospitals, universities and colleges.

Anti-smoking advocates applauded the Alberta government when it last year banned smoking in all public places and work sites, bringing the province's smoking laws up to par with several other provinces. Tobacco displays at convenience stores were drastically curtailed in the summer, as cigarette "power wall" were taken down and packages stored out of sight.

The government's most recent research shows smoking rates for Albertans 15 years and older have decreased slightly, from 23 per cent in 2002 to 21 per cent in 2007. The province estimates smoking costs the Alberta economy $1.8 billion annually, mostly in medical bills and sick days from work. More than 3,000 Albertans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. (Alberta tobacco reduction strategy is working..)

Les Hagen of Action on Smoking and Health believes the government's smoking restrictions and recent cigarette tax hikes are making a difference. He points to the government's dwindling tobacco revenues, on track to tally $50 million less than expected this fiscal year.

Both Hagen and Tony Hudson, president of the Lung Association of Alberta, want the province to hike tobacco taxes further, adding at least $2 to a cigarette pack. "It's one of the biggest levers you can push," Hudson said. "It has a really strong effect on young people. It really hits them in the pocketbook." Also these individuals are pushing to outlaw flavored cigarettes and Hudson would also like to see the entire province, like the Town of Okotoks take aim at drivers and passengers who smoke in vehicles carrying children.

Bill 45 Smoke-free Places (Tobacco Reduction) Amendment Act/Smoke-Free Public Places & Workplaces Implementation - January 1, 2008..

Reference: Alberta limits sales in war on smoking by Renata D'Aliesio, Calgary Herald, 1/2/2009

Other Alberta related news briefs: duMaurier SNUS - Comments Regarding Smokeless Tobacco from Dave Hancock, Minister of Health & Wellness, Province of Alberta, Canada..; duMaurier SNUS - Edmonton, Alberta - Imperial Tobacco Canada...; Conflict Exists With the Acceptance of Tobacco Industry Money...