Canadian Cancer Society calls for stronger federal tobacco strategy

16 January 2017

Toronto -

With National Non-Smoking Week underway, the Canadian Cancer Society is urging Health Canada to strengthen its Federal Tobacco Control Strategy. The current strategy expires in just over a year, in March 2018.

Current tobacco strategy funding of $38 million a year is significantly lower than in the past, when it was more than $70 million a year. Today’s funding level is only 1.2% of the $3.2 billion in annual federal tobacco tax revenue. 

“It’s imperative that we continue to fight against the tobacco epidemic,” says Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “It’s 2017, but more than 5 million Canadians are still smoking. We’ve made huge progress, but tobacco is still the #1 preventable cause of disease and death in Canada. We need new and stronger action to combat tobacco industry tactics that continue to attract new smokers and keep people smoking.”

“Funding for tobacco control should be increased substantially to enable Health Canada to implement a more comprehensive and effective strategy,” says Cunningham. “With more funding, Health Canada will have greater impact to reduce smoking, especially among youth. And, as part of a renewed strategy, the out-of-date federal Tobacco Act, adopted 20 years ago, needs to be modernized to deal with current issues, such as flavoured tobacco, new industry promotions and water pipe smoking.”

“More funding for Health Canada initiatives would complement plain packaging regulations and a nationwide ban on menthol cigarettes being brought forward by Minister of Health Jane Philpott,” says Cunningham. “These important measures deserve strong support. They will help protect youth from the tobacco industry and are an essential part of a broader strategy.”

Tobacco kills 37,000 Canadians every year, accounting for about 30% of all cancer deaths.  Fully 18% of Canadians are current smokers, as reported by the Canadian Community Health Survey for 2014.

Smokers who need help to quit smoking can get help by calling the Society’s Smokers’ Helpline toll-free at 1-866-366-3667, by visiting smokershelpline.ca, or by walking or running their way to a smoke-free life by joining our Run to Quit program.

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.

For more information, please contact:

Rob Cunningham

Senior Policy Analyst

Canadian Cancer Society

National office

Phone: (613) 565-2522 ext 4981