This framework was developed in response to the tobacco epidemic throughout the world and has been signed by 173 parties. The core of the convention is to reduce the demand for tobacco through a number of measures including price and tax, as well as regulations from exposure to smoke, regulation of the contents of tobacco products, product disclosure, packaging and labelling, advertising awareness and dependence and cessation programs.
The convention also looks at supply issues including the sale of tobacco to minors, the illicit trade in tobacco products and looking for economically viable alternatives.
While it is not easy to correlate the convention into changing habits, in Alberta, a culture of tobacco use has seen a shift.
“In the last decade there have been a few changes. The reality right now is most people don’t smoke, more than 80 per cent, and 90 per cent don’t chew,” said Martin McSween, tobacco reduction/addictions counsellor for Alberta Health Services.
“Of those, over half are thinking of quitting. Most of us have grown up in a culture of tobacco use, and now that we are more aware of the addictive nature of the drug it is unacceptable to use.”
Since 2003, it has become illegal for anyone under 18 to use, possess or consume tobacco. Legislation has banned smoking in public spaces, businesses, restaurants as well as penitentiaries. There have also been changes to labelling, advertising and marketing of tobacco products, most recently restrictions on flavoured tobacco sales.
McSween said to show this culture shift he has been collecting “tobacco memories,” how people have seen a change in society.
Some of the feedback has ranged from the change in price to the availability of candy cigarettes.
“One person said in her high school, there was a 'smoking door,' and smoking was permitted on airplanes,” said McSween.
Another change a person notices is awareness to smoking is aimed at a younger audience, and more access to cessation programs.