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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
  • Reducing tobacco use in Saskatchewan
    Increase funding for a tobacco control strategy

    In the fiscal year 2015-16 the provincial government is expected to spend about $300,000 on tobacco control, despite estimated tobacco tax revenues of $270 million. That amounts to about 30 cents per person, the lowest level of any province or territory for which estimates are available.

    The Society is urging the provincial government to significantly increase the amount it spends on programs and policies to reduce tobacco use and the many cancers associated with it.

    Protect kids by banning all flavoured and menthol tobacco products

    More than half (55%) of teenage tobacco users have used a flavoured tobacco product. Saskatchewan youth who use tobacco are using flavoured tobacco products. (YSS 2012/13) These candy and fruit flavoured products encourage youth to experiment with tobacco and many become addicted. The most popular flavour among youth is menthol. The YSS found that 1 out of 3 teen tobacco users smokes menthol cigarettes.

    Saskatchewan has the highest youth smoking rate in Canada. Banning flavoured tobacco products will help protect Saskatchewan’s youth from addiction and health risks. Read more about this issue and the impact a group of teens is having.

    Smoke-free outdoor places, including patios of restaurants and bars

    Second-hand smoke is extremely toxic. It contains over 4,000 chemicals including at least 50 known cancer-causing substances. Several studies have found that second-hand smoke in an outdoor setting can be as concentrated as indoors. Saskatoon, Warman and Martensville are the cities that have banned smoking on outdoor patios. Seven provinces(Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland/Labrador, Yukon) also prohibit smoking on patios of restaurants and bars.

    Saskatchewan Government gets a D+ for tobacco control efforts

    Saskatchewan’s leading health advocates have given the Saskatchewan government a ‘D+’ overall for its listless efforts to protect the public from the harms of tobacco, he leading preventable cause of disease and death in the province.

    The report card and accompanying analysis, conducted by an independent tobacco control consultant, grades the government’s actions on 10 key recommendations made by the health groups since 2009. The topics in the report range from tobacco control funding to the need to prevent youth from smoking by banning menthol and candy-flavoured tobacco products. Saskatchewan is far behind the rest of the country.

Raise awareness of the cost of tobacco

There are many costs associated with tobacco use, including premature death and a wide range of illnesses and cancers. These health effects are physically and emotionally devastating to individuals, their families and loved ones. In an effort to help raise awareness about these cosets, the Society commissioned GPIAtlantic to calculate the cost of tobacco use to the Saskatchewan economy. Their report estimates the total cost is $1.1 billion annually.


Stop cancer before it starts

2 men and woman sitting and talking

Smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths. For each person who quits smoking or dies, the tobacco industry needs youth to become addicted. The tobacco industry has developed new tactics (flavours, menthol capsules, etc) to build a fresh customer base.

To combat this, Saskatchewan must adopt new legislation as other provinces have done. The provincial government also needs to increase funding for prevention and cessations programs.

Tell your MLA that Saskatchewan needs to make cancer prevention a priority by reducing smoking rates through legislation and programs.

Take Action Now

  • Background

    Preventing cancer through healthy public policy

    To help prevent cancer before it starts, Saskatchewan needs a comprehensive plan to reduce tobacco use in the province. Tobacco is responsible for 30 percent of all cancer deaths. More Saskatchewan residents die from lung cancer than any other cancer.

    For most of the past decade, Saskatchewan has had the highest youth smoking rate in Canada. For every person who quits smoking or dies from their addiction, the tobacco industry needs to recruit new customers. To do that, tobacco companies have come up with ways to entice youth with candy and fruit flavoured tobacco, and menthol capsules which are embedded into the filters of cigarettes. Flavours mask the harsh taste of tobacco and make it easier for youth to experiment and become addicted.

    To protect our youth from these deadly products and support people who are trying to quit, Saskatchewan needs to invest more money into tobacco reduction and adopt new legislation.

    Ban all flavoured tobacco products to prevent youth from starting

    • More than half of high school students who use tobacco are using flavoured products
    • Five provinces have adopted legislation to ban flavoured tobacco products
    • 81% of Saskatchewan residents support a ban on flavoured tobacco (Ipsos Reid, 2013)

    Adopt regulations for electronic cigarettes to prevent youth from using them

    • E-cigarettes are appealing to youth and young adult, with 1 out of 5 having used them at least once
    • Currently there are no laws in Saskatchewan restricting a child from purchasing e-cigarettes
    • There are no provincial laws restricting where e-cigarettes can be used support integration of those skilled workers into the system

    Restrict smoking in outdoor places including on public patios, playgrounds and sportsfields

    • Studies show that second-hand smoke (SHS) in certain outdoor settings is a health hazard.
    • Restaurant and bar patios are workplaces, and staff should be protected
    • Being exposed to smoking can normalize smoking which may lead to more youth to start smoking. For people trying to quit, even seeing people smoking or smelling it can cause relapse

    Increase funding for tobacco reduction

    • Saskatchewan collects approximately $275 million annually in tobacco taxes, but spends less than $500 thousand on programs to prevent youth from starting or to help people quit
    • Saskatchewan spend 40 cents per capita on tobacco reduction, the lowest of any province in Canada The lack of investment in tobacco control is one of the reasons Saskatchewan has some the high smoking rates in Canada

  • Learn more

    Tobacco is a serious public health issue responsible for 1 out of 5 deaths in the province. Smoking rates in Saskatchewan have dropped as they have all over Canada, but we still has one of the highest youth smoking rates in the country. Until Saskatchewan makes tobacco control a greater priority through new laws and adequate funding, we will continue to see more sickness, death and increased healthcare costs.

    Read our Tobacco Control Progress Report

    Preventing Cancer

    Ban smoking in outdoor patios of restaurants and bars, on playgrounds and sports fields

    Half of all cancers can be prevented by eating well, maintaining a healthy body weight and through healthy public policies which makes healthy choices easier.

    Important facts

    • Second-hand smoke is a health hazard, even outdoors. Studies show that people can be exposed to almost as much second-hand smoke in outdoor places, like restaurant patios, as they are indoors where smoking is allowed.
    • Outdoor smoking on restaurant patios is an unfair threat to workers’ health.
    • Smoking has no place in areas where people gather outdoors, especially children - as it can compromise public health and safety, and it poses a threat to the environment.

    Ban the sale of fruit and candy flavoured tobacco products

    Important facts

    • More than half (55%) of Saskatchewan high school students who use tobacco are using flavoured products.
    • Flavours such as grape and bubblegum mask the harsh taste of tobacco and make it easier for youth to experiment and become addicted.
    • One out of 3 youth use menthol products compared to 1 out of 20 adult smokers.
    • Five provinces have adopted legislation to ban flavoured tobacco, including menthol.
    • A 2013 Ipsos Reid survey found that 81% of Saskatchewan residents support a ban on flavoured tobacco products.

    Increase funding for tobacco reduction programs

    Important facts

    • Tobacco use costs the Saskatchewan economy $1.1 billion annually.
    • Despite our high smoking rates, Saskatchewan spends just 40 cents per capita on tobacco control compared to the national average of $3.65.
    • The provincial government collects approximately $275 million in tobacco taxes, but spends less than $500,000 on tobacco reduction measures.
    • Evidence shows that jurisdictions with well-funded tobacco control strategies are more successful at reducing smoking rates.
    • The lack of investment in tobacco control measures is one of the reasons Saskatchewan continues to have one of the highest smoking rates in Canada.

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