May 30, 2008
Media Release

Out of sight, out of mind

Smoke-Free Ontario Act bans the display of tobacco products
NEWMARKET – On May 31st, the final phase of the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA) will be implemented, banning the display of all tobacco products, including behind-the-counter “power wall” displays in retail stores across the province.  All tobacco products will now need to be stored in a manner which prevents customers from seeing them. 
Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco, blunt wraps and other speciality tobacco products, including chewing tobacco, snus and snuff.
“In 2001, York Region was one of the first municipalities in Ontario to protect residents from the dangers of cigarette smoke by implementing a smoke-free bylaw,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  “This new legislation further enhances our ability to protect residents from the harmful health effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke.”
Research shows that power walls can stimulate impulse buying of tobacco and weaken the determination of ex-smokers to remain smoke-free.  Banning the display of tobacco products in retail stores aims to decrease the rates of those who begin smoking, particularly youth; decrease rates of relapse among quitters; and increase the rates of successful quitting attempts among smokers.
“Awareness and education are critical to ensuring that tobacco vendors comply with the Smoke Free Ontario Act,” said Town of Markham Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Chair of the Region’s Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee.  “York Region public health staff have been working together with local tobacco vendors to provide the information they need to meet these new display standards.”
Tobacco vendors who are not in compliance with the display ban could face fines up to $10,000.
Tobacco use is the biggest preventable cause of death and disease in Ontario.  It kills nearly 13,000 Ontarians each year.
“Putting cigarettes next to chocolate bars simply sends the wrong message to our youth,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health and Director of Public Health Programs.  “The display ban will help prevent youth from starting to smoke and reduce smoking-related diseases such as heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema.”
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into effect on May 31, 2006 and is the legislative component of the provincial Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy.  This strategy will improve the health of all Ontarians by preventing children and youth from starting to smoke, helping Ontarians quit smoking and protecting Ontarians from involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke.
For more information, please contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell: 905 716-2717

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