Saskatchewan Government gets a D+ for tobacco control efforts

24 November 2015

Regina -

November 24, 2015

Saskatchewan Government gets a D+ for tobacco control efforts


REGINA - In a report card released today, health advocates from The Lung Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society give the Saskatchewan government a disappointing ‘D+’ overall for its listless efforts to protect the public from the harms of tobacco, the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the province.


“Saskatchewan has the highest youth smoking rate in Canada, which is nearly double the national average,” says Donna Pasiechnik from the Canadian Cancer Society. “This is completely unacceptable. Unless we begin to seriously address this issue now, smoking-related illnesses will overwhelm our society and the health care system.”


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.


“The Saskatchewan government is not keeping up with new evidence, citing a need to monitor before taking any action. We have gone ahead and produced this report that highlights new evidence and the policy changes happening across the country, in an effort to support decision makers to take action” says Lorie Langenfurth from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.


Saskatchewan gets an ‘A’ for increasing tobacco taxes and controlling the sale of tax-exempt tobacco. Both these measures have reduced consumption. However, the government gets an ‘F’ for its refusal to ban flavoured tobacco and regulate electronic cigarettes. The government gets four ‘D’s for inaction on outdoor smoking such as on restaurant and bar patios, regulating where tobacco is sold, and for not providing funding for programs and policies. In 2013-14 the provincial government collected approximately $275 million in tobacco tax revenue, yet spent just $450 thousand on tobacco control programs. That works out to 40 cents per capita, which is the lowest in the country. “We expect our government to commit to a more aggressive, well-funded tobacco control strategy that will reduce the unacceptably high use of tobacco in the province,” says Jennifer Miller from The Lung Association. It’s about time this government showed leadership to do everything possible to attack this serious public health issue.”


Public opinion surveys conducted in Saskatchewan in 2011 and 2012 indicate strong public support for province-wide legislation that bans flavoured tobacco products and prohibits smoking in outdoor spaces including public patios, parks and playgrounds.


Smoking costs the Saskatchewan economy more than a billion dollars annually and kills more than 3 Saskatchewan people every day. Saskatchewan continues to have the highest youth smoking rates in Canada.


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Media Contacts:


Melody Lynch

Heart and Stroke Foundation

306-500-6015


Jennifer Miller

Lung Association of Saskatchewan

306-343-9511


Donna Pasiechnik

Canadian Cancer Society

306-790-9871 306-533-5288 cell

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.