We want Calgarians’ feedback on potential changes to smoking and vaping rules

The City of Calgary is considering whether our current smoking and vaping rules are best supporting public health and preserving our great public spaces. We are collecting citizens’ opinions on whether the Smoking and Vaping Bylaw should be further strengthened, with consideration to prohibiting:

  • Waterpipe smoking in workplaces, public premises and specified outdoor places

  • Smoking and vaping in outdoor public parks and at outdoor public events

  • Smoking and vaping in hotel and motel rooms

Smoking and vaping

This direction reflects the growing trend toward smoke-free environments. Over the last few decades, Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal rules around smoking have changed considerably:

  • In 2000, federal law required cigarette packages to feature full-colour photograph-based health warnings.

  • In 2007, cigarette smoking in public places and work sites was banned in Alberta. Nearly 100 per cent of indoor public places across Canada are now smoke-free.

  • Starting in November this year – in addition to visual health warnings – all cigarettes sold in Canada must be in plain, dark brown packages with no colours or logos.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Alberta, so reducing tobacco use is an important aspect to supporting public health. Long term national trends in smoking rates are steadily declining, however the most recent data available from 2017 reveals that approximately 18% of Albertans continue to smoke. Further, a school-based survey of students in grades 7 through 12 reveals a threefold increase in youth vaping in Alberta.

Canada released a Tobacco Strategy in 2018 with a goal to reduce tobacco use to less than 5 percent by 2035. Given current trends and Canada’s public health goals, we want to hear from Calgarians if our parks, outdoor events and hotels/motels should be smoke-free.

Waterpipe (shisha) smoking

While cigarette and tobacco smoking is generally prohibited indoors in Calgary, waterpipe smoking of non-tobacco product is not.

A waterpipe – also called a hookah – is a device used to smoke shisha. Shisha is an herbal mixture or tobacco blend that is usually mixed with fruit, molasses or other flavourings and put into the head of a waterpipe. Hot charcoal heats the shisha and the resulting smoke is inhaled after passing through the waterpipe’s vase of water and a hose.

In the last decade, extensive research has indicated that shisha smoking is a serious health risk. As a result, the World Health Organization has recommended that waterpipe use be prohibited in public places.

“There is a common misconception that smoking shisha is safe, but that’s not true,” explains Dr. Brent Friesen, Medical Officer of Health, Tobacco Reduction Program, AHS. “Research tells us that smoking shisha is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. Often described as herbal and tobacco-free, there are many messages about this product that are misleading. The smoke from shisha causes many of the same diseases as cigarette smoking including cancer, heart disease and lung disease as well as carbon monoxide poisoning.”

We want to hear from Calgarians whether shisha smoking should be prohibited in indoor public places in the same way that cigarette smoking is prohibited.

How to give us your input

“We encourage all Calgarians to give us their feedback on whether smoking and vaping rules in Calgary should change,” says Matt Zabloski, Business Strategist with Calgary Community Standards. “Feedback from all impacted stakeholders and the public will be fully considered and will be an important factor in Administration’s recommendations to Council in Q4, 2019.”

Calgarians are invited to give their feedback until July 7 at