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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.
Smoke-free youth rated movies
Tell your MPP that the Ontario Film Review Board needs to change the rating system. On-screen smoking in movies is one of the last places where tobacco use can be advertised to youth. When youth see celebrities smoking on-screen it acts as product placement. It tells youth that smoking is a normal, cool and desirable behavior.
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Printed: March 4, 2021
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