Canadian Cancer Society applauds Ontario government for increasing quit smoking help but more needs to be done

19 January 2011


The Canadian Cancer Society congratulates the Ontario government for announcing today that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) will be made available to Ontarians through family health teams.

“It’s a good step in the right direction and it certainly increases the help available to Ontarians who want to quit smoking,” says Martin Kabat, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division.

Nevertheless, the Society believes that more needs to be done to help smokers quit in this province and to reduce the availability of cheap illegal cigarettes that undermine tobacco control efforts.

“We encourage the government to go even further and develop both a province-wide cessation strategy and programs that will ensure the elimination of contraband tobacco from our schools, our streets and throughout our entire province,” adds Kabat.

In this respect, the Society supports the development of a province-wide linked cessation system that increases services and incorporates the proven effective cessation methods of NRT, other smoking cessation medications and counseling.

The Society remains committed to more comprehensive strategies because although programs such as the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline and Driven to Quit Challenge do work, two million people in Ontario still smoke, thousands start every day and 13,000 Ontarians still die each year from tobacco use. Tobacco is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths and 85% of lung cancer deaths.

“Clearly, the government of Ontario has shown that it is willing to take action on this serious public health issue and now we want them to take the next logical steps,” says Kabat.

Ontarians must recognize that the availability of cheap illegal cigarettes makes it easy for youth to start smoking and more difficult for smokers to quit.

The Society therefore calls on the Ontario government to develop a strategy that includes the following recommendations:

  • Establish a refund system for products intended for tax-exempt sale on reserves.
  • Prohibit the supply of raw materials to unlicensed manufacturers.
  • Provide municipal police forces across Ontario with additional enforcement powers and resources to enforce restrictions on contraband.
  • Require a health-based marking on every individual cigarette sold in Ontario (the toll-free number of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline, for example).

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 or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Justin Edmonstone

Public Affairs

Canadian Cancer Society

Ontario Division

Phone: 416-323-7026