Nunavut MLAs tighten territory’s smoking laws

Legislature passes amendments to Tobacco and Smoke-Free Places Act

Health Minister Lorne Kusugak, seen here in a file photo, fielded questions from Nunavut MLAs May 28 on amendments to the Tobacco and Smoke-Free Places Act. Changes to the law passed on June 8. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Tenants in public housing can no longer smoke inside their homes and the sale of flavoured vaping products are banned in Nunavut, among other changes, after MLAs made changes to the territory’s tobacco laws this week.

MLAs passed amendments to the Tobacco and Smoke-Free Places Act on Tuesday.

The changes are meant to prevent people from smoking — specifically youth — and to regulate developing products, such as vaping, Health Minister Lorne Kusugak said in the legislature May 28.

Now, the minimum age to buy nicotine is 19, smoking in cars with youth inside is banned, and there is a maximum level of nicotine permitted in smoking products.

“These measures will help to better protect people from second-hand smoke and will have an immediate impact,” Kusugak said.

The law was last amended in 2018, Kusugak said.

Kusugak also fielded questions from MLAs on the bill on May 28.

Arviat North–Whale Cove MLA John Main asked if there is any evidence that vaping products are being used more by Nunavut youth, or if the policies were designed around increasing numbers in Canada’s south.

Kusugak said the trend is in its beginning phases and that it would be best to get in front of the issue.

“It is starting to catch on and it is gaining traction and we would really like to put a stop to that,” he said.

Main also asked how the law will be enforced in the communities.

The important part is educating vendors what the new rules are, Kusugak said, adding that there will be about six enforcement officers for the territory to start, with the option of using bylaw officers.

Netsilik MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq asked whether the law will work effectively against buying and selling tobacco and vaping products online.

Kusugak admitted that’s something the government may have trouble controlling.

“If people want to conduct themselves in illegal matters, that would have to be dealt with by the proper authorities,” he said.

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone said he is especially glad to see that smoking in cars with minors will be prohibited, but he also had some questions about how other parts of enforcement will be managed.

He asked when tenancy agreements for public housing will specify that no smoking is allowed indoors, to which Kusugak replied that it will be at least two years until that policy is developed.

Once it is developed, it will apply to all public housing tenants.

Fifty-one per cent of Nunavummiut 12 to 19 years old smoke, according to the 2018-19 Tobacco Control Act annual report. That is six times more than the national rate.

Across the provinces, 16 per cent of people 12 and up smoke, compared to 62 per cent of Nunavummiut, according to the report.

In some Nunavut communities, it states, 84 per cent of people smoke.

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(26) Comments:

  1. Posted by Smoking around children on

    Should also be a law that pregnant women can’t smoke and a law that you can’t smoke 6 feet from children under 19. Should also raise age to 21 like in USA. Should also make it illegal for youth to smoke, not just buy. Too many poor people getting even more poorer cause of cigarette and tobacco addiction it is an epidemic in nunavut and something needs to be done.

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    • Posted by Joe Camel on

      I m sure people will still order thier vaping supplies online, or are they going to ban that too.

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      • Posted by Online on

        I wont share any links, but you can order cartons of smokes and other tobacco products from the Mohawk native reserves in Ontario/Quebec. They don’t even care if your 19 when you order either.

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    • Posted by Smoker on

      If I smoke it my choice!!! Baby doesn’t care!

      • Posted by cougher on

        Pretty sure you’re trolling, but I’ll bite anyway.
        Baby doesn’t care because baby can’t say anything. My mom smoked when she was pregnant with me and continued smoking when I was a kid. I had terrible lung issues and was always sick because of it, but she was oblivious about why I was so sick. It wasn’t until she quit that she realized how much it had affected me (and still does). She also felt bad about how much of our money she wasted. That could have gone toward my future, or fun family stuff, a down payment on our own place, etc.

  2. Posted by delbert on

    Real good laws they make sense.
    But who will enforce them. Laws have no effect unless enforced.

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    • Posted by Resident on

      The same people who are supposed to enforce it in housing tenants, and who are also supposed to stop partying in those units and the units being trashed. Working well isn’t it?

  3. Posted by Smoker’s law on

    In some smaller Community in Nunavut they don’t even have by-law officers how will the Government work with that.

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  4. Posted by nil on

    Has anyone in this entire territory been charged or ticketed for breaking the smoking laws or bylaws? My guess is it is a very very very very rare occurrence.

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  5. Posted by Good Luck on

    Not allowing people to smoke in public housing units. Admirable, but it’s not gonna happen.

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  6. Posted by Why u dum on

    I wise politician once said, “the government does not belong in the bedroom of its citizens’ who do you think you are telling me what I can and can not do in my home, I pay my 50 dollars rent each month. Go away and shut up your face

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    • Posted by Johnny on

      Your government loves you , because your a tax payer, its proctecting you from your self like the government in N Korea loves its citizens

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    • Posted by Do you OWN the home? on

      If you purchased your own house, you have every right to do what you want in it. But since you mentioned that you pay your $50 a month(which wouldn’t be in this case, the child tax/GST/Income support is paying it). If you were paying your own rent, it would be in the couple hundred-$2k per month range. So you are just a tenant like all public housing occupants. If you purchased your own home, then you have every right to do what you want.

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    • Posted by Uniformed on

      Must be nice paying $50 a month rent. Make too much money for public housing but not enough for private housing. There is no in between for the working Inuk

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  7. Posted by Hi-qaluit on

    There should be a full out offence on a no smoking program.
    I believe we should enforce laws regarding tobacco when it come protecting the youth in Nunavut, I know it is being done down south. We should be teaching the young school age kids about the damage and harm of smoking. Plus making laws in which we are banning smoking in and around schools, playgrounds and smoking in vehicles here in the territory . We as adults should make it difficult for our children to start smoking. I have always told my kids if they could come up with one good reason to smoke I would pay for the first pack. I have not bought one yet. As parent we must remember that our children lean by watching and imitating us. Please set a good example for all.

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  8. Posted by Concorn on

    So will every smoker be smoking like they are smuggling cigarettes? If weed is legal. What other plans do they have on cigarettes? I understand smoking is not healthy, but it’s like a waste of time for legislation to discuss this when they have much more important things to deal with such as getting a rehab facility for drug users in nunavut, more public housing, mental health etc…

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  9. Posted by Eskimos Fan on

    Will the By Law officers be armed with Nerf Guns and Water pistols to enforce the said “Authoritaa!!” along with stern looks?

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  10. Posted by Really on

    If the government really want to do something right charge the northern for ripping everybody off .

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  11. Posted by Piitaqanngi on

    Here we go again. GN will control everthing in our lives if we let them. We are the most controlled people in a suposed democracy. Nunavummiut cannot enjoy their liberties. We do not enjoy things anyone else outside of Nunavut can enjoy easily. Will Nunavuumiut ever truly be free from Government control? They are experts at taking away any liberties Nunavmmiut may enjoy albeit on a limited basis. We should change Nunavuf to an autocracy. Basically, that’s what it is… controlled by a few Territorial ministers and their bosses, the deputy ministers.

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    • Posted by Autocracy equals one on

      “controlled by a few Territorial ministers and their bosses, the deputy ministers” would actually make it an oligarchy, not an autocracy.

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    • Posted by Duhhh….. on

      They are not controlling Nunavumiut with this law. They are just protecting their property, their housing units. To be able to house future Nunavut citizens for many years. The public housing isn’t for people to destroy at a rapid rate just because the units don’t belong to them. I assure you, if one were to buy and build their own home with their own hard earned $$’s, then one wouldn’t treat it like they do to the Gov’ts public unit.
      Most do not care about the public housing, as they do not pay the rent or earn their own income. They just take the $50 as mentioned above from their Income assistance/GST/child allowance(all from aome sort of Gov’t department) and transfer it to another gov’t department which is the Nunavut Housing.

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    • Posted by Ian on

      6 enforcement officers hired to patrol for smokers and vapours,wow we bad, hide the smokes and vape, break out the booze dope,crack and cocaine.

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      • Posted by wrongo on

        Bylaw enforcement officers don’t patrol for crack, cocaine, etc. RCMP does that. These bylaw enforcement officers are needed.

  12. Posted by Truestory on

    Smokers unite!!! Vote these dictator wannabes out next election!!! We pay tobacco tax to Ottawa. Ottawa gives tobacco tax WE paid to provinces/territories. So, G.N. gets our tobacco tax dollars, and they have the audacity to do this.

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  13. Posted by M Center on

    Any Valium provisions from the Minister for the Pblic for adjusting to the new Proposed Health Law? 😉

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  14. Posted by Me on

    Who do I call rcmp or by-law enforcer to report a smoker, toker, vaper or a hot knifer? Savikataaq will have find real good enforcers for this one.

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