Providing Leadership in Tobacco Reduction

Letter to the Standing Policy Committee

on Protection, Community Services and Parks

JUNE 12, 2017

To The Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

First of all, on behalf of the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA) I want to commend you for bringing forward the issue of smoking on patios. A quick look around us tells us that there are now seven provinces and territories (AB, ON, QC, NB, NS, NL and Yukon) and at least 36 municipalities that have adopted laws to prohibit smoking on outdoor patios of bars and restaurants. This is a remarkable achievement and the City of Winnipeg needs to give serious consideration to adding its name to that list. There are many reasons why this should happen, but for want of time, I will give you three that I consider to be the three most important.

Since we started consistently tracking smoking rates in Canada and by province, we have seen smoking rates in Manitoba go from a high of 28% at the beginning of 2001 to our latest report in 2015 at 14.8%. If ever there was a reason to allow smoking on patios it just got cut in half. This is not about the right to smoke on a patio. It does not exist. This is about protection so I believe I have come to the right Committee. It is first and foremost about protecting the health of non-smokers as witnessed to by provincial legislation titled The Non-Smokers Health Protection Act.

There is no safe level of second hand smoke. Our record of protecting people from second hand smoke in past was not good. The Cancer Risk Profiles for the Largest Metropolitan Areas Across Canada (2010-2011) reported that Winnipeg ranked 20 out of 26 for the highest exposure to second-hand smoke in public places amongst those 12 yrs. and older. Remember that this was six to seven years after we banned smoking in indoor public places.

Two researchers, Geoffrey Fong and Ryan Kennedy from the University of Waterloo, measured Tobacco Smoke Pollutants in Outdoor Patios in City of Ottawa in 2010. It involved 2 smoke free patios and 10 smoking patios attached to restaurants, pub/bars, and coffee shops. They measured fine particulate matter (2.5 micrometers – most dangerous – go deep into lungs – made up of hundreds of different chemicals). The established standard is that they shouldn’t exceed 12 micrograms per cubic meter. Keep in mind that cigarette smoke has over 4,000 chemicals 70 of which are known to be carcinogens). What did the Ottawa study find?

On a Smoke-free patio: Average concentration less than 10 micrograms. Peak concentration less than 10.

Adjacent to 2 smokers (8 min.): Average: 79 micrograms Peak concentration more than 700. Have you ever heard people say, “What about all the other pollution?”

Beside a busy street rush hour: Average: less than 10 micrograms. Peak concentration 20. Do you think the public’s health needs to be protected from smoking on patios? We believe it does.

Secondly, we need to talk about Prevention. In my 15 years of working with MANTRA and having talked to several hundred adults (both smokers and non-smokers), I have yet to meet one parent who has said, “I think it would be a really great thing if my son or daughter would take up smoking”. Sadly, what I have heard are parents who are smoking and saying, you should talk to the kids. Smoking is not a problem that belongs to the kids. It’s an adult problem. Kids don’t manufacture the cigarettes; kids don’t market the tobacco products; Kids don’t provide the environments where smoking is seen as the norm; Kids don’t make the decisions about who can smoke and where they will smoke. We do as adults.

I’m happy to be able to tell you that our smoking rate among 15-19 year olds in Manitoba is at 12.7%. Fifteen years ago it was at 23%. I also have to tell you that I am concerned. I am concerned by the increasing number of young people who are vaping products with nicotine and in some cases with marijuana. I am also concerned about upcoming legislation to legalize marijuana and what the will mean to re-normalizing smoking amongst young people.

We are here today to say we need your help. We need your help to ensure that we never again provide the kind of environments where young people see smoking in any form as the norm. Young adults age 20-24 have the highest smoking rates in Manitoba and also are amongst those often seen at restaurant and bar patios. Smoking amongst those 16-19 is at its lowest amongst those at age 16 at 5.5% and rises to 16.7 by age 19 – more than triples in those three years…and keeps on going up till it reaches its highest level of about 20% in 20-24 year olds. I am appealing to you to help put to rest this notion that smoking is integral to enjoying an evening out on a restaurant or bar patio. I am asking you to help prevent what we see happening amongst older teens and young adults. You can help by banning smoking on patios.

Finally, I want to talk briefly to you about cessation. Do you know that if we can get those who are smoking to stop by the time they are 30 the vast majority of them would not see the devastating array of diseases that occur to those who continue smoking beyond that point? Do you know that about 70% of those who smoke would like to quit? There are three reasons why they find it so difficult: physical addiction to nicotine, psychological-behavioural, social environments that are not supportive of their desire to quit. This is where you come in – you can help change those environments. What are we doing about smoking cessation? The Canadian Cancer Society who is here today – operates the Smokers Helpline and the Run to Quit program. The Lung Association –operates Manitoba Quits and offers support materials like Journey to Quit. MANTRA has been busy training health professionals to help people quit. In the last two years we trained over 45 facilitators and more than 100 health professional in three health regions, and we will be carrying on with this for the next year. We are in the final year of a three year project with the University of Manitoba and Cancer Care MB that will increase smoking cessation capacity amongst health professionals. We, collectively, can and are doing our part and now we are counting on you to do yours.

Will it actually help people to quit? Woodstock Ontario passed a by-law that prevented smoking on patios of restaurants, patios of bars and pubs and also included City Parks. They surveyed members of the smoking public before the by-law and after. 53.4% were in favor of banning smoking on patios of bars and pubs before the by-law and it jumped to 75.3% after the by-law. 69.8% were in favor of banning smoking on restaurant patios before the by-law which jumped to 81.6% after the by-law. 66.5% were in favor of banning smoking in public parks before the by-law and it jumped to 84.15 after the by-law. Did it help those who were smoking to quit? 33% of those who smoked and were surveyed after the by-law said that it had helped them to cut down the number of cigarettes they smoked. 30 of those who smoked before the bylaw had quit after the by-law and 47% of that number said it helped them to remain quit.

As I looked over the role of this Committee, I noticed that it has a responsibility for public health. I encourage you to do something today that will protect people from second hand smoke, prevent young people and young adults from seeing smoking as part of their social life, and helping those who are smoking to quit. Your decision has the potential to greatly benefit public health in Manitoba.

Thank You,

Murray Gibson

Executive Director MANTRA




Manitobans Want E-Cigarette Use

Regulated Like Smoking

Winnipeg, Manitoba (September 8, 2015) – A recent survey from MANTRA (Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance) conducted by Prairie Research Associates found that the majority of Manitobans want e-cigarette use regulated like smoking. Highlights from the survey include:

•   Manitobans do not want youth accessing e-cigarettes. According to the survey 78% support  restricting shops that primarily sell e-cigarettes to those 18 years of age and older.

•   77% of Manitobans support treating e-cigarette use the same as smoking tobacco, meaning use is banned in all enclosed public places and indoor workplaces.

•   When presented with possible exemptions, 65% of Manitobans oppose allowing e-cigarette use in bars, lounges, casinos and other public places where only adults are permitted.

In June of 2015, the Province of Manitoba announced a bill amending the Non Smokers’ Health Protection Act to include regulation of e-cigarettes. Many provinces have acted to regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco products but the Manitoba legislation has taken a different and less restrictive approach. One way in which the Manitoba bill differs from other provinces is that it allows for possible future exemptions for e-cigarette use in bars, casinos and other public places where only adults are permitted.

MANTRA agrees with the majority of Manitobans who oppose exemptions for adult-only establishments like bars, casinos and lounges. Because e-cigarettes are unregulated devices that have only recently become popular, there is only a small body of research about potential health risks associated with vaping and it is not known how vaping will impact smoking rates. We know from the survey that about 6 in 10 Manitobans have concerns about whether being exposed to the exhaled vapour of an e-cigarette is safe.

Another concern raised by the survey is the issue of “dual use”. According to the survey, the majority of recent e-cigarette users in Manitoba also smoke regular cigarettes. This data suggests that dual use is a problem in Manitoba.  “Dual users are those who use both e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes,” says MANTRA Executive Director Murray Gibson. “They are not using e-cigarettes to quit smoking but to save money, reduce their smoking, or to address their addiction where smoking is not allowed or acceptable.” It is MANTRA’s position that banning e-cigarette use in bars, casinos, and lounges will do nothing to prevent people from using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, but this ban will be effective in reducing the problem of dual use.

The Manitoba legislation also differs from other provinces in that it will allow for sampling and testing of e-cigarette products in businesses where youth are not allowed and the sale of e-cigarette products is the main business activity. About 50% of Manitobans support allowing the use of e-cigarettes for testing and sampling in vapour product shops.  If testing and sampling of products is to be allowed, it is MANTRA’s position that vapour product shops be restricted from selling products not directly related to vaping so they do not become lounges that promote a lifestyle of vaping.

Bill 30 goes to committee on Wednesday, September 9. MANTRA has the following recommendations for changes to the bill:

1) E-cigarette use should not be allowed in bars, casinos and lounges.

2) If vapour product shops allow testing and sampling of products they should be restricted to selling only e-cigarettes, e-juice and related products.


This Omnibus survey was conducted by PRA in June and Early July of 2015. A total of 800 Manitoba residents, 18 years of age and over, were interviewed by telephone on a range of issues.

Approximate error rate +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.


Founded as a nonprofit in 2002, MANTRA functions as a catalyst and coordinator for tobacco reduction activities in Manitoba. Our vision is to eliminate tobacco use for a healthier Manitoba.

For more information please contact:

Contact Murray Gibson, Executive Director MANTRA



Manitobans Want More Smoke-Free

Outdoor Public Places

Winnipeg, Manitoba (May 30, 2014) – A recent survey from  MANTRA (Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance) conducted by Prairie Research Associates finds that most Manitobans want to enjoy outdoor patios and other public places without being exposed to second hand smoke (SHS). Highlights from the survey include:

• About 2 in 3 (67%) support extending smoking bans to outdoor patios of restaurants and bars, an increase from 58% in 2008.

• The majority of Manitobans support extending a ban to beaches (65%), public parks and green spaces (61%), and outdoor events (59%).

• Almost 8 in 10 Manitobans and more than half of current smokers feel that smoking restrictions have made their community a better place to live.

Despite downward trends in smoking rates in recent years, information from the Canadian Community Health Survey has shown that Manitobans exposure to second hand smoke in vehicles and public places has actually increased.

This is concerning because it is well established that there is no safe level of exposure to SHS and even brief exposures can have serious health consequences. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention even brief exposures can damage cells in ways that set the cancer process in motion, trigger heart attacks in people with pre-existing heart conditions, and can cause asthma attacks in children.

Public smoking bans are not just about protecting people from SHS. About 3 in 4 Manitoba smokers would like to quit and one effective way of supporting their quit attempts is to increase smoking bans in outdoor public places. Research shows that when smoking bans are implemented, many smokers choose to quit or cut back.

There are several other excellent reasons to ban smoking in outdoor public places such as reducing litter, protecting the environment, reducing fire risk and decreasing negative role modelling for children. For these and other reasons many communities, governments and private businesses across Canada have chosen to make outdoor public spaces smoke free.

Despite strong public demand, here in Manitoba there are few restrictions regarding smoking in outdoor public places. With spring already upon us, it is important for governments and private businesses to meet the needs of the Manitobans by acting quickly.

Considering the great benefits of smoking bans as well as Manitobans strong support for them, MANTRA recommends the following measures:

1. All Manitoba municipalities ban smoking on outdoor patios of bars and restaurants and the City of Winnipeg take a leadership role in initiating this action.

2. Municipal governments responsible for parks that have beaches and playgrounds follow the provinces lead by banning smoking on them.

3. Festival organizers of events in outdoor public parks and green spaces declare their events smoke-free.


The PRA Omnibus survey was conducted in September 2013. In Manitoba, 800 residents 18 years of age and over were interviewed by telephone on a range of issues.  Theoretical error rate ± 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.


Founded as a non-profit in 2002, MANTRA functions as a catalyst and coordinator for tobacco reduction activities in Manitoba. Our vision is to eliminate tobacco use for a healthier Manitoba.

For more information please contact:

Contact Murray Gibson, Executive Director MANTRA


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Manitoban’s Demand for Smoke-Free Housing

in Multi-Unit Dwellings Not Being Met

Winnipeg, Manitoba (June 25, 2013) – The Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance Inc.’s

(MANTRA) new research on multi-unit dwelling tenants and owners conducted by PRA

(Prairie Research Associates) Inc. finds that:

• More than 7 in 10 Manitobans would prefer to live in a building that does not allow

smoking anywhere inside (i.e. “smoke-free”).

• Only about 4 in 10 actually do because of a lack of supply.

• 42% of those who smoke or have a family member that smokes, would choose

to live in a building that is smoke-free.

Exposure to second hand smoke that drifts into units from other parts of the building

is the driver for why many Manitoban tenants of multi-unit dwellings desire a smoke-

free environment. In fact, 1 in 3 tenants say such drifting has taken place at least once

in the last six months and about 8% have reported a negative health outcome from

this exposure.

Tenants seeking smoke-free housing are further challenged by the fact that there

appears to be no standard definition of the term “smoke-free” and that it is applied

to a wide variety of situations. For example, among tenants who stated they live in

smoke-free housing, 35% also said that smoking is actually allowed in the building.

Further, among property managers who say they have formal smoking policies, 44%

allow smoking in suites.

Managers and building owners see advantages to addressing smoking in and around

their buildings such as: reduced fire risk, lower maintenance costs, reduction in tenant

complaints, and benefits to tenant health. However, these advantages alone have not

translated into buildings transitioning to completely smoke-free, possibly because they

are not aware of the high demand (indeed, few actually kept track of the demand for

smoke-free units) nor do they realize that many smokers would choose to live in

a building that is smoke-free.

The result is that many Manitobans living in multi-unit dwellings may be living

in buildings that do not meet their expectations and property managers are receiving

complaints that could be avoided with clearly written disclosure of a buildings smoking

policy at the signing of a lease. Although the vast majority of tenants want to live

in housing that does not allow smoking inside, the lack of clarity around the definition

of smoke-free, combined with no requirements for smoking policies to be disclosed

means that tenants may not realize the true situation they are moving into and may

have little recourse against second hand smoke entering their homes.

So if there exists high demand for smoke-free multi-unit dwellings and suppliers

of such housing see the benefit of non-smoking buildings, why then is the demand not

being met? We believe in part it is because there is confusion in the market place.

MANTRA would recommend the following to help both tenants and owners clarify the

situation in multi-unit dwellings:

1) A standardized definition of the term “smoke-free”

2) Complete and formal disclosure of building’s smoking policies to tenants

3) A shift to smoke-free housing by individual building owners

4) Increased government encouragement to transition buildings to smoke-free


For this research PRA employed a combination of three approaches: 1) a survey

of 50 property management companies responsible for managing a total of 1,655

apartments, condominiums, and multi-until housing buildings, conducted by phone

in late May; 2) fifty mystery shops, 40 with multi-family apartment leasers and

landlords, and 10 with multi-family condominium real estate agents by phone between

May 17 and May 29; and 3) a random sample survey of 401 Manitobans living

in residents with shared-walls, conducted by phone from May 9 to 31, 2013 (theoretical

error rate: ± 5%, 19 times out of 20).

The full spectrum approach of this research enables MANTRA to understand the

source of smoking policy governance (rental management companies), the

communication and implementation of the policies (leasers, landlords, and real estate

agents), and the adherence to and outcomes of the policies (shared-walls residents).


Founded as a non profit in 2002, MANTRA functions as a catalyst and coordinator

for tobacco reduction activities in Manitoba. Our vision is to eliminate tobacco use

for a healthier Manitoba.

For more information please contact:

Contact Murray Gibson, Executive Director MANTRA


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MANTRA Applauds Recent Pharmacy Ban, Calls for

Reduced Locations for Tobacco Sales

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day

Winnipeg, Manitoba (May 31-2013) – Today, legislation comes into effect banning

tobacco sales in pharmacies and vending machines. MANTRA (Manitoba Tobacco

Reduction Alliance) recognizes that reducing the number of locations where tobacco

is sold is a vital measure toward lowering Manitoba’s smoking rates.

“The legislation coming into effect today is certainly a welcome first step,” says

Murray Gibson, Executive Director at MANTRA “unfortunately we’re seeing that many

stores containing pharmacies are choosing to continue selling tobacco, a product that

is lethal when used as intended.”

The Manitoba legislation allows stores to continue selling tobacco if they create

a separate entrance to the pharmacy, making it inaccessible to the rest of the store.

MANTRA commends businesses like Rexall and Shoppers Drug Mart that have

chosen to stop selling tobacco while we find it regrettable that others such as Sobeys

have chosen to go to great lengths to continue selling. Before the May 31 ban, there

were 92 Manitoba pharmacies or stores containing pharmacies selling tobacco, that

number will reduce by more than half as a result of the legislation.

Even with the pharmacy and vending machine bans, tobacco products continue to be

much more widely available in Manitoba than alcohol. There is 1 tobacco retailer for

every 104 smokers in the province compared to 1 alcohol retailer for every 390

persons who consume alcohol.

Reducing the number of locations where tobacco is sold is an important element

of MANTRA’s newly released Comprehensive Tobacco Control Strategy. Taking

action in this area has the benefits of lowering cigarette consumption, de-normalizing

tobacco use and enhancing enforcement efforts at remaining outlets.

MANTRA recommends further reducing the number of outlet locations using the

following methods:

1. Introduce annual retail license fees – In Manitoba, a license to sell tobacco costs

nothing and never has to be renewed, this is in stark contrast to alcohol license

fees which are costly and have to be renewed annually. The number of tobacco

licenses issued should be capped.

2. Establish tobacco free zones around educational facilities and hospitals. Work

with colleges and universities to ban tobacco sale on campus.

Founded as a non profit in 2002, MANTRA functions as a catalyst and coordinator

for tobacco reduction activities in Manitoba. Our vision is to eliminate tobacco use

for a healthier Manitoba.

For more information please contact:

MANTRA – 204.784.7030

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