THE sale of tobacco products will be banned in health-care facilities and pharmacies, including drugstores and large retail outlets such as Safeway and Superstore, as of May 31 on World No Tobacco Day.
Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau said the new prohibition is the province's latest step in "de-normalizing" smoking so more people quit and fewer pick up the habit.
"It's changing the way things have been done," Rondeau said Thursday, explaining the new rules under The Non-Smokers Health Protection Act reflect pharmacists are health-care providers.
As hard as it is to see government step in with a ban, we want to take this opportunity to step in and help people quit'
"Most recognize it was incompatible," he said of pharmacies that sell tobacco products while also selling stop-smoking aids or prescribing the drug Champix to smokers who want to quit.
The new rule banning tobacco sales also prohibits the sale of cigarette rolling papers, cigarette tubes, cigarette filters, cigarette makers or pipes or anything used in association with smoking tobacco.
It's supported by the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association and the Manitoba Society of Pharmacists (MSP).
MSP spokeswoman Bobby Currie said the pharmacists see the ban as a chance to promote healthier lifestyles.
"As hard as it is to see government step in with a ban, we want to take this opportunity to step in and help people quit," she said.
The legislation does allow for tobacco and tobacco-related products to be sold if the business builds a separate retail area so pharmacy customers cannot access the section where tobacco and tobacco-related products are sold except through an exterior doorway.
Rondeau said there was no opposition to the ban and Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta have also outlawed tobacco sales in pharmacies.
"Pharmacies was a logical step," he said.
Rondeau introduced the legislation last year to further reduce smoking rates. It also prohibits the sale of tobacco products from vending machines. At last count, there were only 17 cigarette vending machines remaining in Manitoba.
The province has said research has shown that making it more difficult to buy tobacco products helps reduce the number of smokers and helps prevent youth from adopting the habit.
The Canadian Cancer Society has said the decline in smoking rates among men is a significant reason for the overall drop in the death rate for men. The lung-cancer death rate for men dropped 30 per cent between 1988 and 2007. Among Canadian males ages 15 and older, smoking has declined from a high of 61 per cent in 1965 to 20 per cent in 2010. In Manitoba, the smoking rate currently sits at 21 per cent for men and women.
In 2004, Manitoba became the first province to introduce an indoor smoking ban. It also passed legislation to remove tobacco from display on store shelves. The province's tobacco taxes are now one of the highest in the country, 29 cents per cigarette or $58 per carton.
This year, the province has said it will ban smoking at its 82 public beaches, including Grand Beach, and the dozens of playgrounds in its provincial parks by summer 2014.
During the first year of the ban, park officials will only hand out warnings to offenders. By 2015, offence notices will be issued carrying a fine of $299.