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Tobacco control – what we’re fighting for right now
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. Plain packaging will come into force in Canada November 9, 2019 at the manufacturer level, and February 7, 2020 at the retail level. Canada will have the best plain packaging regulations in the world. Australia became the first country to implement plain packaging in 2012, followed by the United Kingdom and France in 2016, and Norway and Ireland in 2017.
Implement an annual cost recovery fee on the tobacco industry
The tobacco industry has caused the tobacco epidemic and should pay for government costs to respond to the epidemic. This is based on the polluter pays principle and holding the tobacco industry accountable. In the US, the FDA has implemented a cost recovery fee on the tobacco industry since 2009, with fees allocated based on market share to recover the FDA’s annual tobacco budget of US$712 million.
In Canada, the federal government has implemented a strengthened federal tobacco control strategy with an annual budget of about $60 million. A cost recovery fee would thus generate $60 million in incremental annual government revenue, which could be used for other government priorities. The federal government is already implementing a cost recovery fee for the cannabis industry.
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.
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 Petitpas Taylor 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. Health Minister Petitpas Taylor should bring forward a regulation to ban flavours in all tobacco products, following the example of an increasing number of provinces and building on existing federal regulations including the ban on menthol cigarettes effective October 2, 2017.
100% smoke-free university and college campuses
In Canada, there is tremendous momentum towards making university and college campuses 100% smoke-free, including outdoors. Policies for 100% smoke free campuses not only provide protection from second-hand smoke, but also discourage tobacco use among youth. A large proportion of campus policies also apply to smoking of anything, including cannabis, as well as use of e-cigarettes and any tobacco product. Read more in University and College 100% Smoke-Free Campuses in Canada: National Status Report.
What we’re fighting for in New Brunswick
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in Canada. According to the most recent data from the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS), the current smoking prevalence in New Brunswick is 19%, still higher than the national smoking prevalence of 17%. New Brunswick’s smoking rate among 20-24 year olds remains alarmingly high at 25%.
Banning smoking in outdoor spaces
Currently, the Smoke-Free Places Act restricts tobacco use in only one outdoor venue: school grounds. According to a recent poll commissioned by the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick, there is significant public support for legislation that would designate specific outdoor spaces as smoke-free, particularly entrances and exits and spaces frequented by children.
The Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick is calling on the Government of New Brunswick to amend the Smoke-Free Places Act to include:
- Entrances, exits and air intakes of all public buildings (six metres).
- Outdoor bars and patios with designated perimeters.
- All provincially-designated parks.
- All children’s playgrounds.
- Recreational/sports fields.
Despite recent federal regulations on cigarillo sales, product redesign by tobacco companies has promoted continued and widespread availability of flavoured tobacco in New Brunswick. Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (2011) data reported that 29.7% of New Brunswick youth aged 15-19 have tried cigarillos and 18.9% have tried cigars. This trend is a major cause for concern, particularly as flavoured tobacco products are marketed directly to youth.
The Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick is calling on the Government of New Brunswick to amend the Tobacco Sales Act to prohibit the sale of all flavoured tobacco products not covered by federal legislation.
For more information about how you can become involved in these issues, please contact 1-800-455-9090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Printed: April 9, 2020
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