Focused upon herein are the observations regarding retailer compliance with the sign provisions of sales-to-minors legislation across Canada.
Federal and provincial sales-to-minors legislation regulates the posting of age advisory and/or tobacco health-warning signs in retail establishments where tobacco products are sold. The number and type of signs that must be posted in each establishment varies by province, depending upon the legislation in effect. The legislation stipulates certain required positions for the signs; however, the law also uses the words "on or near" these required positions. Since the term "near" is loosely defined and the focus of this study is for research purposes to verify if retailers are abiding by the general spirit of the law and not for enforcement, our results for sign compliance are reported not taking position into account. Simply the presence of the mandatory signs or absence of unauthorized signs suffices.
The federal mandatory sign requirements have not changed since the last survey performed in 2005.
A liberal definition of compliance was adopted for this portion of the research. Compliance was assumed to exist, provided that retailers respected these minimum fundamental requirements of the legislation:
The presence of signs designed to be visible only to the cashier, or those designated as optional, were not measured and do not factor into the results. We were not concerned with signs not posted exactly where the law stipulated, provided they were present and visible to the customer. The only attempt to verify that signs met the size provisions stipulated in some of the legislation is in the case of Nova Scotia's Tobacco Access Act "Health Warning" sign. In all other cases, we did not deduct points for the failure of retailers to meet size provisions.
One requirement on which there was no compromise was that the signs posted be only those officially sanctioned under the tobacco laws of the province. No credit was given for the presence of any other tobacco age/health-advisory sign: whether hand-drawn by the retailer, issued by an outside organization or even by a government health authority.
Manitoba's Non-Smokers Health Protection Amendment Act (Bill 37) that amended the Non-Smokers Health Protection Act received Royal Assent on August 9, 2002. The amendment included a ban on displays of tobacco or tobacco-related products in most retail premises where such displays would be visible to children and a ban on advertising and promotion of tobacco and tobacco-related products in most retail premises where children are permitted access. These provisions did not come into force until January 1, 2004. However, Manitoba did not start enforcing the law with respect to display, advertising and promotion until after the Supreme Court decision in January 2005 on similar legislation in Saskatchewan and after further consultation with retailers. The provisions came into effect August 15, 2005 and were in effect for this data collection.
Saskatchewan requires that their provincial sign be posted advising "It is illegal to provide tobacco to anyone under 18" and "Government supplied ID is required". Age restricted signs and signs containing a health warning message are not allowed unless previously approved by Saskatchewan Health. At this time, Saskatchewan Health has not approved any other age-restricted or health warning signage, other than its own, for posting at retail. "Operation ID" signs that have an age-restricted message are not allowed to be displayed; however, most other "Operation ID" signs are permitted, including training material. Advertising and promotion of tobacco and tobacco-related products is also not permitted in retail establishments that allow young persons (under the age of 18) access; however, outdoor signs stating the generic product and price are allowed.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, mandatory age and signage requirements are those stated in provincial legislation. The minimum age requirement in Newfoundland and Labrador is 19. Corresponding provincial signage has not been created. Additionally, since the federal signage addresses a minimum age requirement of 18, the posting of the federal sign would contradict the provincial minimum age requirement of 19. Because of this situation, information regarding the posting of federal and provincial signage was gathered but not presented as a matter of compliance in that province.
Slightly more than two-thirds (68.6%) of all weighted outlets comply with sign provisions, a significant increase over last year's result of 66.4%. This figure represents the weighted percentage of retailers across all 29 cities (St, John's (NL) excluded) visited that met every sign compliance condition we measured.
Mandatory sign compliance is on the rise from previous years. Between 2002 and 2005, the trend was to increase about 6% to 10% annually; the increase over last year was 2.2%.
The figures in the chart above reflect the national percentage of retailers who post every mandatory sign at every designated location on their premises, as prescribed under federal or provincial laws. In New Brunswick, for example, there are three mandatory signs requiring posting. If retailers failed to post even one of these signs, they would not factor into the national compliance figure shown. The greater the number of individual requirements a retailer must satisfy with respect to the sign provisions of the Tobacco Act or provincial equivalent, the greater the chances that one condition will not be met and that compliance in that region will be lower than elsewhere. At the national level, the number of mandatory requirements cuts across eight different laws and numerous combinations of signs within each province.
All classes of trade showed an increase in sign compliance from previous years. Pharmacies were excluded from this year's study (Chart 15). Independent convenience is the only class of trade that fell below the national average. This is consistent with previous years.
Across regions, the following highlights are noted by class of trade (Table 18):
Among the four classes of trade in this study, this class of trade has the highest tobacco sign compliance, at 78.0%. Four cities, Thunder Bay, Brandon, Windsor and Chicoutimi/Jonquiere, scored 100% sign compliance in grocery outlets. Fourteen cities scored better than the national average.
This class of trade has the second highest compliance rate and is higher than the national average by 5.3%. Fifteen of the cities surpassed the national average.
This class of trade only marginally surpassed the national average as it did last year; however, 15 cities surpassed the national average, improving upon last year's tally of ten cities.
Although higher than last year, this class of trade is the only one to score below the national average, with a 63.4% tobacco sign compliance rate. Independent convenience outlets represent 33.8% of the outlets visited and, therefore, have a greater weight on the national extrapolation than the other classes of trade. Nineteen cities scored above the national average, 12 below it.
The national sign compliance rate continues to increase each year; however, decreases in 10 cities over the 2005 study kept the national rate at 68.6%. The straight average of the decreases across all 10 cities is -23.3%. The largest and most significant decreases (i.e., double digit) occurred in seven cities, where the straight average of the drop is -31.3% (Table 19). These cities are:
These communities represent several provinces and are legislated under a variety of tobacco laws.
In 19 of the 29 cities visited, an increase in tobacco sign compliance was reported with a straight average of 16.5%. Double-digit increases occurred in 12 of them:
Thirteen cities scored below the national average of 68.6%:
Many of the cities are from provinces where tobacco laws require more than the posting of a single mandatory sign. It is noteworthy to see two cities from Quebec (Montreal and Sherbrooke) on the above list, since stores in this province are required to carry only one sign in order to meet sign compliance regulations. The stores in Ontario showed an improvement over last year. Last year in this province, the "No Smoking" sign was required to meet compliance regulations; however, this year it was not required, which resulted in two cities scoring above the national average where they didn't last year: Ottawa and Kingston.
Highest sign compliance was found in 15 cities, where compliance was 70% or better:
Table 20 shows retailer compliance by each individual sign component for signs mandated under the Tobacco Act or corresponding provincial legislation.
Twenty-two of the 29 cities visited (76%) achieved a sign compliance of 50% or better, with the following cities ranking in the top five:
Regionally, the provinces and cities where sign compliance is low are typically those where one or another version of the required age restriction signs are posted, but where retailers fail to post these signs equally in all the prescribed places, or where they are less disciplined in posting ancillary signs. It is no surprise then, that, of the top five cities, four come from three provinces where only one sign is required to meet compliance: Manitoba, Alberta, and Quebec.
In Saskatchewan, the province's tobacco law prohibits the posting of signs other than those expressly allowed. Mandatory signs are the two issued by the province. In addition to these, but not in place of them, the federal age restriction sign designated under the Tobacco Act is also allowed.