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Tobacco control – what we’re fighting for right now

  • Increase funding for Health Canada's tobacco control strategy

    Funding for the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS) should be increased so that Health Canada can have more impact to reduce smoking, including among youth. The existing funding level of $38 million per year is equal to just 1.1% of the $3.5 billion collected by the federal government through tobacco taxes. In the United States, per capita federal investments in tobacco control are more than double that in Canada. The current FCTS expires March 31, 2017. It is essential that there be a more effective and properly funded replacement to provide the comprehensive and sustained tobacco strategy Canada needs.

  • Implement plain packaging

    Tobacco companies have used product packaging as an effective marketing strategy to depict positive lifestyle images, convey deceptive messages and detract from health warnings. Health Minister Philpott should move quickly on the federal government’s commitment to implement plain packaging. Australia became the first country to implement plain packaging in 2012, and Ireland and the United Kingdom will do so in May 2016.

  • Renew health warnings for all tobacco products

    As of June, 2012, a new series of picture health warnings were required to cover 75% of the package front and back for cigarettes and some little cigars. Canada’s new warnings are among the best in the world but many product categories are not covered by these regulations. As a next step, Health Minister Philpott should renew warnings for all other tobacco products. Warnings for roll-your-own tobacco, smokeless tobacco, cigars and pipe tobacco have not been changed since 2001. Well-designed health warnings are effective at increasing awareness and decreasing tobacco use.

  • Ban all flavoured tobacco products

    Tobacco products in fruit, candy, menthol and other flavours strongly appeal to youth. The national Youth Smoking Survey for the 2012–13 school year found that of high school students who use tobacco, 50% use flavoured tobacco, and of high school students who smoke, 29% smoke menthol. Health Minister Philpott should bring forward a regulation to ban flavours including menthol in all tobacco products, following the example of an increasing number of provinces.

  • Increase tobacco taxes

    Increasing the price of cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to encourage smokers to quit and to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco. A price increase of 10% will generally result in a decrease in consumption of 4%. The federal government should implement a tobacco tax increase, providing both public health and public revenue benefits.

  • Regulate e-cigarettes

    The Society recognizes the potential benefit that e-cigarettes may provide to Canadians trying to quit smoking, though research in this area is evolving. Other nicotine replacement products are known to help smokers quit and have been approved for use in Canada. However, Health Canada has not approved e-cigarettes with nicotine as a quit smoking product for sale in Canada. The Society only recommends nicotine replacement products that have been approved by Health Canada.

    Meanwhile, e-cigarettes are widely available in Canada. Regulations are needed to prevent young people from using e-cigarettes and to help prevent the marketing of e-cigarettes from undermining tobacco control efforts. Federal and provincial governments should adopt regulatory measures, including regulating:

    • sales to minors
    • places of use (not allowing in places where smoking is banned by law)
    • advertising and promotion
    • where e-cigarettes are sold
    • labelling
    • addition of flavours and other ingredients
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