Passage of An Act to bolster tobacco control in Quebec A major gain in the fight against cancer

26 November 2015

Montreal -

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division welcomes the passage of An Act to bolster tobacco control with immense satisfaction after a long wait of five years. It would like to congratulate the Minister for Public Health Lucie Charlebois for this strong and bold legislation that includes several global firsts. “Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Quebec and is responsible for a third of cancers. Anti-tobacco legislation is a primary tool in the fight against cancer. No other prevention measure can save as many lives. With An Act to bolster tobacco control, the Couillard government is striking hard,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director, CCS – Quebec Division.

The CCS would like to underscore the efforts of all the Health and Social Services Committee members who worked to shape this new version of the legislation – passed unanimously. This will have a major impact because five years from now, the government estimates there will be 430,000 fewer smokers in Quebec, which means that tens of thousands of premature deaths as well as suffering will be prevented and the burden on the publicly funded healthcare system will be eased.

Necessary measures and global firsts

Every week in Quebec, 250 young people fall prey to smoking at an average age of 13 years. With the new legislation, it will be much more difficult for the tobacco industry to make their products attractive to young people. “When you’re 12, starting to smoke isn’t a choice but a trap. As a teenager, I was a targeted victim of cigarette manufacturers and it almost cost me my life. Smoking makes you lose an average of ten years of your life and age terribly: cancer, severe pains, emphysema, strokes, functional impairment and the long list continues,” says Micheline Bélanger, a former smoker and lung cancer survivor who lives with permanent pulmonary damage from smoking.

Through its presence in the parliamentary committee and on the ground, the CCS became the voice of the public: more than 55,000 Quebecers signed the petition asking the government to adopt strong anti-tobacco measures. This popular demand was supported by 64 organizations, federations, associations and professional bodies. Two principal measures which the CCS has repeatedly demanded over the past five years were heard and integrated into the legislation:

  • Ban on flavoured tobacco products: flavours, including menthol, which is very popular among youth, will be banned.
  • Packaging measure: Quebec is the first province in the world to require such a large minimum size for warnings on cigarette packages.

“The industry knows it well: flavoured products are a foot in the door to tobacco addiction. The same applies to the slender packaging of super slim cigarettes to look like lipstick, which targets young girls. From now on, these products will be banned,” says Mélanie Champagne, Director of Public Issues, CCS.

Other measures demanded by the CCS have also been integrated into the legislation:

  • Regulation of e-cigarettes: the law regulates sale to minors as well as advertising/promotion, in addition to banning the association of tobacco brands with e-cigarettes. This measure, put forward by the CCS to the parliamentary committee, stops tobacco companies from using the same strategy as in the United States where cigarettes and e-cigarettes can both be marketed under the same brand name.
  • Increase in smoke-free zones: it will no longer be possible to smoke in a vehicle when a child under 16 is present, bar and restaurant patios, children’s parks and sports fields, among others.

Lung cancer kills twice as many women as breast cancer and four times as many men as prostate cancer. “In the near future, the government will have to tackle tobacco prices here, which are the lowest and least taxed in the whole of Canada. We know beyond doubt that a price hike is one of the best tools to convince smokers to quit and keep youths at bay from this deadly poison,” says Mélanie Champagne.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

With the support of 300,000 annual donors and 30,000 volunteers, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the Quebec cancer charity with the potential to save the most lives. Each year, some 135,000 Quebecers turn to it. The CCS does everything it can to increase the overall cancer survival rate, currently at 63%, to 80% by 2030.

The money raised by the CCS helps:
  • prevent more cancers and demand laws that protect public health;
  • fund more research projects;
  • support more people living with cancer.

Let’s save more lives. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1 888 939-3333.
Mélanie Champagne
Director, Public Issues
Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division
Phone: 514 651-1470