Return to Home Page
Providing Leadership in Tobacco Reduction


Comment on the Manitoba Budget

The Province of Manitoba Budget released on April 30 was a good news budget for tobacco control. The Province raised the tobacco tax a small amount, $1 dollar a carton and said it would take the extra $2 million raised and dedicate it to smoking cessation programs.

This move goes to partially fulfill the 2011 NDP election promise to increase tobacco control funding over the course of their latest term in office to eventually dedicate 2% of tobacco tax revenues to reducing smoking rates.  Projected revenues this year are about $250 million, so to fulfill this promise total funding should reach the $5 million mark.

Investment in smoking cessation is one of the most cost effective health interventions there is when looking at the cost of the intervention per life year gained and more investment is necessary considering the financial toll of tobacco use in Manitoba is about $250 million in health care costs alone.

More funding is welcome because Manitoba has lagged behind other provinces in tobacco control investment. The $2 million is a needed boost to help reduce smoking rates in Manitoba which at 17% smoking prevalence is higher than the Canadian average of 15%.

MANTRA has always supported increases to tobacco taxes because studies have shown that when the price of cigarettes go up, young people choose to quit or not take up the habit at all.

 According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids the “general consensus is that every 10 percent increase in the real price of cigarettes reduces overall cigarette consumption by 3-5 percent, reduces the number of young adult smokers by 3.5 percent and reduces the number of kids who smoke by 6 or 7 percent.”

In Manitoba, we have seen youth rates of smoking go down significantly and high prices of cigarettes have undoubtedly played a part in this.

So we are fortunate that Manitoba has had the most expensive cigarettes in Canada for some time.  A tobacco tax map put together by Non Smokers’ Rights Association shows the average Manitoba carton costing over $127 which is more than $10 more per carton than Nova Scotia, the second highest province.

This means a pack a day smoker in Manitoba spends close to $6000 a year, a massive expense and considering the cost of smoking is listed as the second biggest reason for quitting (behind health) this gives the roughly 2/3 of Manitoba smokers who want to quit, a huge motivation to do so.

The second good news piece in the budget is that people seem to be really quitting or reducing their smoking.  Budget estimates for Tobacco Tax revenues projections have fallen greatly from last year.

Despite the $1 per carton increase, revenue projections are estimated to decline significantly.  Projections from last year’s budget estimated revenue of $286 million this year it is estimated to be $252 million, a decline of $34 million or 12% in total tobacco consumption.

Though a decrease in Tobacco Tax revenue could potentially signify an increase in contraband tobacco smuggling, we have little evidence that contraband is actually increasing in Manitoba as it has been steadily decreasing in other parts of the country.  With declining smoking rates in the province, it is more likely that people are choosing to quit or cut back which is great news for public health.

Return to top of page


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


Return to top of page

New Studies Highlight Greater

Mortality Risk from Smoking

As part of MANTRA’s work delivering smoking cessation programming, we often quote Richard Doll’s British Doctor’s Study. This huge 35,000 person (all men), 50 year study began in the early 1950’s and was some of the first compelling evidence that long-term smoking significantly impacts a person’s life expectancy. Depending on both the length of time smoked and the amount smoked, the average amount of life lost for regular smokers was around 10 years and it was concluded that about 50% of long term smokers died of an illness caused by their smoking. The 50% stat is still often quoted today.

Two recent studies demonstrate that this previous estimate of smoking deaths may be quite a bit lower than the reality. A study from the American Cancer Society (ACS) released in February, 2015 pooled data from almost a million men and women ages 55 and older over a ten year period and noted significant number of deadly diseases among smokers that had not previously been causally linked to smoking. The study found excess risks of renal failure, various heart and respiratory diseases as well as prostate and breast cancer. If the research is correct, the New York Times reported that this represents an increase of about 60,000 American deaths per year in addition to the nearly half million that are currently attributed to smoking. In Canada, there would be significantly more than the currently accepted 37,000 Canadian deaths from smoking.

A study out of Australia released shortly after the ACS study found something similar.  The study looked at 200,000 men and women ages 45 years of age and older and concluded that up to 2/3 of deaths in current smokers can be attributed to smoking.  Harm around intensity of smoking was quantified in the study finding that smokers who smoked about 10 cigarettes a day had twice the mortality risk and smokers who smoked 25 cigarettes or more a day had quadruple the mortality risk.

So the news around the dire health effects of smoking just keeps getting worse. The good news is that quitting smoking is effective. After 1 year excess risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a continuing smoker and after 5 years stroke risk is that of a never smoker. For more health benefits of quitting click HERE.

Return to top of page


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


Return to top of page


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

Return to top of page

 © Copyright 2017 MANTRA Inc.