World No Tobacco Day - Tobacco taxes and legislation: Quebec lagging behind

30 May 2014

Montreal -

On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division wishes to remind elected representatives that smoking is one of the greatest scourges affecting the healthcare system. In Quebec, where 1.6 million people still smoke, the impact of tobacco use on the healthcare system and the community is estimated at $4 billion per year. That’s 4 times the $1 billion tax revenue generated by cigarette sales in 2013.

And we are facing another equally serious problem: smoking initiation among youth. Every year, the tobacco industry manages to persuade tens of thousands of young Quebecers to take up smoking by attracting them with fruit- and candy-flavoured tobacco products. In December 2013, Alberta adopted a bill to ban all flavoured tobacco products, which has yet to be enacted. The government of Manitoba has introduced a similar bill.

For the CCS, Quebec is clearly lagging behind in terms of tobacco control legislation and the measures needed in 2014 to lower the province’s smoking rate, which has stagnated in recent years. The CCS is therefore calling on the government to revise the Tobacco Act without delay and to include the following measures:

  1. A ban on flavours for all tobacco products covered by the Tobacco Act.
  2. The regulation of electronic cigarettes.
  3. Plain and standardized packaging for all tobacco products.
  4. A moratorium on the tobacco products market.

“It’s clear that the fight against cancer has to involve the fight against smoking. In Quebec, for every smoker who quits or dies, a young person takes up smoking. On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, the CCS urges the health minister to strengthen the Tobacco Act in order to prevent a new generation of smokers and thousands of future deaths from cancer,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director, CCS – Quebec Division.

Taxes and tobacco

For World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization is calling on governments to raise taxes on tobacco to save more lives. This is an extremely effective way to reduce tobacco consumption. Higher prices deter youth from taking up smoking and spur regular smokers to quit. The CCS is asking the government to increase the taxes on tobacco to at least the same level as those in Ontario (which has the 2nd lowest tax rate after Quebec) and wants to see this measure included in the next budget.

“A 10% increase in cigarette prices is estimated to reduce consumption by about 4%. That’s huge! But even so, tobacco products remain cheaper in Quebec than in the rest of Canada, and the gap is widening with the other provinces as they continue to increase prices. This measure would benefit Quebecers’ health and the economy,” Suzanne Dubois adds.

Smoking in Quebec
  • Smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancers.
  • Quebec still has 1.6 million smokers.
  • The average age of smoking initiation in the province is 12.7 years.
  • One in two regular smokers dies as a result of their tobacco use.

Every day, the Canadian Cancer Society works to save more lives. With the support of thousands of Quebecers, donors and volunteers, we fight to prevent more cancers, enable our researchers to make more discoveries and help more people touched by the disease. Let’s save more lives. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444