Canadian Cancer Society applauds BC government commitment to cancer prevention and tobacco tax increase

18 February 2014

Victoria, BC -

The Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, is applauding the BC government for committing to cancer prevention in its 2014 budget. Today, the government announced a commitment to fund innovative cancer prevention initiatives while simultaneously announcing a tobacco tax increase of $3.20 per carton of 200 cigarettes.

In Budget 2014, the BC government states the increase in tobacco taxes will result in approximately $50 million in annual revenue, a “significant portion” of which will be allocated to funding cancer prevention. The government commits to working with the Canadian Cancer Society and other research partners to develop and implement these initiatives.

“We are pleased the BC government is advancing our province’s dedication to cancer prevention,” says Kathryn Seely, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon. “We know about half of all cancers can be prevented and meaningful steps, like increasing tobacco taxes, can have a tremendous impact in saving lives. As the leader in cancer prevention, we look forward to expanding our current prevention initiatives and exploring new and novel approaches to cancer prevention in tandem with government and other research partners.”

In 2013 in BC, 23,700 new cancer cases were diagnosed. Reducing cancer diagnoses by about half would not only change thousands of lives, but would also radically improve the healthcare system, economy and society. There will be a 70 per cent increase in cancers in the next 20 years unless we do things differently.

“Imagine if half of the people who were diagnosed with cancer, weren’t. That’s 12,000 British Columbians who wouldn’t hear the words ‘you have cancer’,” says Seely. “Cancer prevention is a game changer in the fight for life and a major investment in cancer prevention would give us the best chance to stop cancer before it starts.”

As part of the Society’s dedication to cancer prevention, the organization advocates for healthy public policies, like tobacco legislation, that make healthier choices easier choices for British Columbians.

The tobacco tax increase announced in today’s BC budget will increase BC’s current tobacco tax of $44.60 per carton of 200 cigarettes to $47.80.

“We also applaud the BC government for announcing a tobacco tax increase because we know it will reduce smoking rates and save lives,” says Seely. “Making cigarettes more expensive is one of the most effective ways to encourage smokers to quit, particularly youth, and also prevent youth from starting to use tobacco.”

Seely adds a price increase of 10 per cent will generally result in a decrease in consumption of three to five per cent.

Smoking rates in British Columbia are the lowest in the country at 13 per cent. However, tobacco use is still the leading cause of death and disease in BC, killing more than 6,000 British Columbians each year. In total, tobacco use costs the BC economy $2.3 billion annually. The Canadian Cancer Society has challenged British Columbians to bring the current smoking rate down from 13 to 9 per cent by 2018 in order to reduce tobacco-related deaths and will continue to work with the government and public to achieve that goal.

“Cancer changes everything, unless we change cancer together,” adds Seely. “We look forward to finding out specifics such as the amount that will be invested by the province in cancer prevention and how quickly we can get these cancer-prevention initiatives started – because cancer doesn’t wait.”

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

For more information, please contact:

Sheila Dong

Manager, Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 604-675-7365