Canadian Cancer Society welcomes higher tobacco taxes, Calls for more provincial action to help Manitobans quit smoking

16 April 2013

Winnipeg, Manitoba -

The Manitoba Division of the Canadian Cancer Society today applauded the largest provincial tax increase on tobacco products in more than a decade.

Today’s provincial budget increased the tax on a single cigarette by four cents making Manitoba the highest tobacco tax jurisdiction in Canada. Taxes on 200 cigarettes increase to $64.20 from $56.20. The budget also increased taxes on roll-your-own cigarettes and raw leaf tobacco. This year, the government will collect $283 million in tobacco taxes – $26.6 million more than last year.

Higher taxes reduce access to tobacco by making smoking more expensive. Tobacco reduction is a priority for the Cancer Society because smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and accounts for an estimated 30% of all cancer deaths.

But the Society warned that Manitoba’s stagnant smoking rate suggests there is still more to do to ensure Manitobans stay tobacco free and support is provided for those who want to quit smoking. The number of Manitoba smokers between the ages of 15 and 44 continues to be higher than the national average.

Overall, the budget allocated $1.9 million to help Manitobans stay tobacco free including $660,000 for the proven effective smoking cessation drug Champix.

“The smoking rate in Manitoba is declining at a slower rate than in other provinces,” Mark McDonald, Executive Director for the Canadian Cancer Society, Manitoba Division said. “The government has committed to increasing its investment in programs and supports to help Manitobans go tobacco free but we have not yet seen the progress needed to significantly reduce smoking and therefore cancer in Manitoba.

“Government investments will need to pick up dramatically if it is going to meet its 2011 commitment to spend two per cent of tobacco taxes to help Manitobans go smoke free.” 

The 2013 provincial budget confirmed a number of commitments already made by the government to step up the fight against cancer. The budget continues spending initiatives that:

  • Fund cancer treatment and support drugs for all Manitobans
  • Increase access to cancer treatments by expanding its CancerCare department’s regional hub network
  • Reduce wait times for diagnosis and treatments
  • Fund a total of 54 oncologists in Manitoba to diagnose cancer sooner

“In its first year, the Manitoba Home Cancer Drug Program provided coverage to 7,300 cancer patients saving their families more than $5 million in deductible costs,” McDonald said. “This initiative, along with a commitment by the government to reduce the wait time from initial suspicion of cancer to first treatment, are programs that the Cancer Society has been calling for because they will be life-changing for some Manitobans.’’

The Manitoba Home Cancer Drug Program cost just over $12 million to administer. In 2013/14, those costs are expected to increase to $20.6 million.

This year, an estimated 6,100 Manitobans will be diagnosed with cancer and sadly eight people will die every day from the disease.

For those who need help quitting smoking, the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline offers proven tips and tools to help people quit smoking.  It provides callers with advice from trained specialists about cutting down or quitting smoking. Individuals wanting to help friends and loved ones can also call, at 1-877-513-5333 or to book a presentation email info@mb.cancer.ca.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Jason Permanand

Communications Manager

Canadian Cancer Society

Manitoba

Phone: 204-990-4310