Federal Government Significantly Cuts Anti-Tobacco Funding
17 April 2012
The Canadian Cancer Society strongly opposes significant funding cuts to Health Canada’s Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS). The Society and other health groups were informed by the federal government that the FTCS’s budget will be cut by $15 million. This is a cut of more than a third (35%) of the Strategy’s yearly budget of $43 million.
“We are alarmed and extremely disappointed that the government has made such significant cuts to Health Canada’s highly successful tobacco control strategy,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “This strategy has been working and these reductions will negatively impact continuing efforts to reduce smoking rates. When considering the devastating toll that smoking takes on Canadians, Health Canada should be doing more to reduce tobacco use, not less.”
Renewed funding for the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy is crucial as it has been the cornerstone of Canada’s successful battle to reduce tobacco use. The FTCS has helped reduce adult smoking rates from 25% in 1999 to 17% in 2010, while smoking rates among youth aged 15-19 have dropped from 28% to 12% over the same period.
Canada can afford the investment required for continued action against tobacco use, especially given that reduced cigarette smuggling has resulted in a recent $480 million increase in annual federal tobacco tax revenue. The $43 million yearly budget for the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy is only 1.4% of the estimated $3 billion in total tobacco taxes collected annually by the federal government. After the funding cuts, less than 1% (0.9%) of federal tobacco tax revenue will be invested in tobacco control.
“It’s difficult to understand how the federal government can make this severe cut to tobacco control funding when they’re receiving significantly more federal tobacco tax revenue than in the past,” says Cunningham. “The severity of the cut is unexpected given recent positive measures by the federal government such as banning flavoured cigarettes and little cigars and the introduction of larger health warnings on cigarette packages. Regrettably, the funding cuts will undermine the potential impact of these measures.”
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, taking the lives of an estimated 37,000 Canadians every year. About five million Canadians still smoke and 50% of all long-term regular smokers will die from smoking-related disease. Smoking costs our healthcare system an estimated $4 billion every year in direct care costs.
“The government should do the right thing by continuing to invest in reducing smoking. Otherwise, Canadians will pay the price in the future with more people dying and increased healthcare costs,” says Cunningham. “It’s crucial that the fight against tobacco use remains strong so smoking rates will continue to drop as fast as possible and more lives will be saved.”
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.