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Towards a social justice approach to comprehensive tobacco control

This resource is available in English only.

Eliminating differences in tobacco use between different groups negatively affected by the social determinants of health can help achieve health equity. The development and adaptation of tobacco control policies has influenced health inequities among populations that have the highest rates of smoking.

The Propel Centre for Population Health Impact and the Program Training and Consultation Centre have compiled literature to guide strategy and intervention development to reduce health inequities in community and population health tobacco control initiatives.

Policy intervention

This evidence review identified taxation on tobacco products as the policy intervention with the greatest potential to reduce inequities in tobacco use based on socioeconomic status. Other strategies commented on include smoking bans, retail outlets, mass media campaigns, school-based interventions, multijurisdiction policies and cessation supports.

Implications of the evidence

The implications of this evidence for research, policy and practice support the use of tobacco control policies grounded in social justice principles as a strategy to reduce tobacco use among populations who live in low socioeconomic contexts.

Separate recommendations for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers are outlined to guide their work towards addressing inequities in tobacco use. An appendix describing six examples of tobacco control interventions with a social justice perspective is also included.

Use this resource to:

  • facilitate discussion about unintended impact of tobacco control programs that may actually increase or worsen health inequities;
  • support programs and interventions on tobacco control that directly address the social determinants of health and health inequities at a community and population level; and
  • develop a tool that identifies areas within tobacco programs and policies that can be improved to address the socioenvironmental conditions of tobacco users.


Hyndman, B., Corvaglia-Douglas, O., Lambraki, I., Honsberger, N., Garcia, J. (2018). Towards a Social Justice Approach to Comprehensive Tobacco Control. Toronto: Program Training and Consultation Centre and the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo.

Related resources

Tags: Knowledge translation , Modify & orient, Policy analysis, Public Health Organization, Link

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