EDMONTON - The Alberta government plans to introduce laws to prohibit the sale of cigarettes to children and to protect kids from secondhand smoke in cars.

The initiative introduced by Health Minister Fred Horne is part of a three-year strategy to reduce tobacco use.

Horne says the province will also bring in rules to restrict the sale of flavoured tobacco and expand school-based stop-smoking programs.

He adds the government will also consider tobacco tax increases and further restrictions on smoking in public areas.

Funding is to come from the Alberta Health Services budget.

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There will be an extra $500,000 for a social media campaign on the dangers of smoking.

The province estimates smoking rates in Alberta have fallen from 25 per cent in 2001 to 19 per cent in 2010.

Meanwhile, some members of Calgary city council are pushing for that city's no-smoking bylaw to be expanded to include outdoor spaces.

City staff have been asked to look at how to discourage people from lighting up at playgrounds, sports fields and outdoor rinks.

"What we're really aiming at here is having more healthy behaviour among young people outdoors," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who supports the idea.

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  • Smoking Rates Among Genders

    Smoking rates for both men and women have fallen over the last decade. Rates for men fell from 28.1 per cent in 2001 to 22.3 per cent in 2011 and for women, from 23.8 per cent to 17.5 per cent.

  • Smoking Among Teens

    Since 2001, the largest smoking decline for both sexes occurred among teens. Young people aged 15 to 17 saw rates falling from 20.8 per cent to 9.4 per cent in 2011. And teens aged 18 to 19 saw rates drop from 33.7 per cent to 19.1 per cent.

  • Second Hand Smoke

    The proportion of non-smokers aged 12 and older who were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home declined from 10.6 per cent in to almost half at 5.5 per cent in 2011.

  • Fruits And Vegetables

    In 2011, 40.4 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older reported that they consumed fruit and vegetables five or more times per day. This was down for the second year in a row from the peak of 45.6 per cent in 2009.

  • Physical Activity

    In 2011, 53.8 per cent of Canadians were at least 'moderately active' during their leisure time, up from 52.1 per cent the year before. 'Moderately active' would be equivalent to walking at least 30 minutes a day or taking an hour-long exercise class at least three times a week.

  • Overweight

    At least 60.1 per cent of Canadian men, about 7.6 million, and 44.2 per cent of women, roughly 5.6 million, had an increased health risk because of excess weight. These rates have remained stable since 2009.

  • Obesity

    In 2011, 18.3 per cent of Canadians aged 18 and older, roughly 4.6 million adults, reported height and weight that classified them as obese. This rate was unchanged from 2009. <br>Between 2003 and 2011, obesity rates among men rose from 16 per cent to 19.8 per cent, and among women, from 14.5 per cent to 16.8 per cent.

  • Heavy Drinking

    In 2011, 19 per cent of individuals aged 12 and over reported heavy drinking, up from 17.3 per cent in 2010. Heavy drinking increased for both sexes. The proportion among males rose from 24.8 per cent to 26.8 per cent and among females, it rose from 10.1 per cent to 11.4 per cent. <br> Heavy drinking refers to consuming five or more drinks per occasion and at least once a month during the year prior to the survey.