Children, Seniors and Social Development

Tobacco Control Act Amendments

An Act to Amend the Tobacco Control Act came into force on January 1, 2010. These new amendments changed how tobacco is sold, promoted and displayed in Newfoundland and Labrador. The main goal of the amendments is to further prevent young people from starting to smoke and to support people's efforts to quit smoking.

Consultations with tobacco retailers regarding proposed amendments to the Tobacco Control Act, including how such changes would be implemented, took place in fall 2008.

The following links provide information on the new changes, including how these changes will affect retailers. The information outlines what actions may be necessary to comply with the changes, including new display and promotion requirements.

Key Information

  • The Tobacco Control Act came into effect on June 17, 1994 and prohibits the giving or selling of tobacco to persons under the age of nineteen.
  • Bill 17, a Bill to amend the Tobacco Control Act recently received Royal Assent. The amendments will come into effect on January 1, 2010.
  • The amended Tobacco Control Act changes the way tobacco and tobacco products can be displayed, promoted, advertised and stored at retail locations. It also prohibits a number of locations from selling tobacco and defines a tobacconist shop.
  • Tobacco Control Act Regulations have been developed to provide specific direction related to the types of tobacco related signage permitted at tobacco retail locations.
  • All other provinces and territories in Canada have implemented similar or more restrictive bans on the display and advertising of tobacco products at retail.

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Why are these changes being made?

  • Preventing youth tobacco use and helping people quit
    Eliminating point of sale advertising and promotion of tobacco is aimed at creating a supportive environment where children, former smokers and smokers wishing to quit are not exposed to tobacco marketing.
  • Advertising and promotion increases tobacco use
    Advertising and promotion of cigarettes and other tobacco products have been linked to increased levels of smoking and other tobacco use.
  • Tobacco use kills more than 1,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador every year
    Tobacco use is a preventable health risk. Many chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart attacks can be prevented through the reduction of tobacco use.

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Retailers - What they Need to Know

As of January 1, 2010, amendments to the Tobacco Control Act (TCA) restrict how tobacco products can be displayed, stored and promoted in establishments that sell tobacco. In addition, tobacco sales are now prohibited from a number of types of establishments.

Under the Act, tobacco is defined as a tobacco product in any form in which tobacco is consumed and includes snuff and an accessory. An accessory is a product that may be used in the consumption of tobacco and includes cigarette papers, a pipe, a cigarette holder and a cigar clip.

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Display Restrictions for Tobacco Products

As of January 1, 2010 tobacco products cannot be displayed in a retail store. This means:

  • tobacco products must be stored and sold in a way that prevents consumers from seeing them before they are purchased; and
  • tobacco products must not be visible to a person outside of the store.

The Tobacco Control Act does not specify how a retailer should ensure that the tobacco products are not visible. Options available for retailers to ensure tobacco products are not visible include the use of drawers, cabinets with doors, curtains and under counters.

Please note that the display ban will not apply:

  • during the restocking of tobacco;
  • while a retailer is doing an inventory; or
  • when a retailer is receiving delivery of tobacco or unpacking tobacco

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Promotion Restrictions for Tobacco Products

Any kind of promotional material that reflects a brand of tobacco product is prohibited in any place tobacco products are sold. Examples of prohibited displays include:

  • decorative panels or backdrops that feature a brand of tobacco product;
  • backlit or illuminated panels that include tobacco products and brand indicators; and
  • countertop displays of tobacco products or other products which include a brand indicator.

These restrictions also apply to any promotional material that is visible from outside a location where tobacco products are sold.

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Signage Restrictions for Tobacco Retailers

Tobacco Retailers will be permitted to display up to 3 signs indicating the availability of tobacco products in their stores. This signage must meet the following requirements:

  • a maximum of one sign at any till;
  • a maximum of three signs per location ;
  • the text of the sign must not be visible from outside the establishment;
  • the maximum size of the sign is 216 millimeters by 279 millimeters (8 1/2 inches by 11 inches);
  • the sign shall be white, except for its text, which shall be black;
  • signs must list only the types (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, chewing) of tobacco for sale and their prices;
  • the text on the sign shall not identify or reflect a brand of tobacco or any element of a brand; and
  • signs shall not include any colour, graphics, pictures, logos or other brand elements.

Retailers will be responsible for producing their own signs, if they choose to post them in their establishment. Several examples are shown below:

Retailers may offer customers a binder or other reference tool containing an inventory of tobacco products available for purchase.

Outdoor signs that advertise the price and/or availability of tobacco products are prohibited effective January 1, 2010.

The Minister of Health and Community Services may direct that Government-produced health warning signs be posted at tobacco retailers. All other signs will be prohibited such as Operation ID signage.

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Vending Machines

Tobacco vending machines are only allowed in locations that are not accessible to children and youth under the age of 19 and will be exempt under the proposed amendments to the Tobacco Control Act (display and advertising ban provisions).

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Restrictions for Tobacconist Shops

The Tobacco Control Act defines a tobacconist shop as a place or premises in which the only business conducted is the sale of tobacco. The following conditions apply to tobacconists:

  • tobacco products (as defined above) can be displayed;
  • a tobacconist shop may display their name outside the shop, however, no advertisement, promotional materials or product can be visible from the outside of the shop; or on the exterior of the shop;
  • the owner or person in charge of a tobacconist shop shall not permit a person under the age of 19 years to enter the premises unless accompanied by an adult.

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Bars will be able to continue to sell tobacco products; however, the amended Tobacco Control Act will require bars to comply with the display and advertising provisions.

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Tobacco Retailers Licensee

Although retailers will continue to be required to have a license to sell tobacco products, tobacco retailers will no longer be required to renew their license to sell tobacco products on an annual basis.

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Prohibition on the Sale of Tobacco Products

As of January 1, 2010, the amended Tobacco Control Act prohibits tobacco sales from the following locations:

  • health facilities
  • provincial and municipal government buildings
  • recreation/sport/cultural centres
  • post-secondary institutions
  • temporary facilities (e.g., fairs, concerts, festivals lasting not longer than 7 days)
  • theatres
  • art galleries - libraries
  • museums
  • amusement parks
  • video or games arcades
  • facilities operated by a regional health authority
  • personal care homes
  • long-term care homes
  • nursing homes
  • assisted living facilities

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Environmental Health Officers with the Department of Government Services are responsible for enforcing the Tobacco Control Act.

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A retailer or other person found to be in contravention of the Tobacco Control Act may be subject to the penalties listed below:


  • for a 1st offence, to a fine of $500 and a prohibition from selling tobacco for 3 months;
  • for a 2nd offence, to a fine of $2,500 and a prohibition from selling tobacco for 6 months;
  • for a 3rd offence and for each subsequent offence, to a fine of $5,000 and a prohibition from selling tobacco for 9 months; and
  • to a fine of $500 for selling tobacco while prohibited from doing.

A Person Other Than A Retailer:

  • for a 1st offence, to a fine of $50;
  • for a 2nd offence, to a fine of $250; and
  • for a 3rd offence and for each subsequent offence, to a fine of $500.

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Need more information?

Contact: 709-729-7594

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