What we are advocating for right now
Provinces have filed lawsuits against tobacco companies seeking more than $500 billion in compensation for tobacco-related health care costs. Settlement negotiations are now under way. It is essential that provinces make public health measures to reduce tobacco use the priority in negotiations.
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. The US has had a tobacco fee in place since 2009, which is recovering US $712 million annually. Federally, Canada has implemented a similar fee on the cannabis industry, which is set to recover $112 million annually by 2022. If there can be a federal cost recovery fee on the cannabis industry, we believe that a cost recovery fee on the tobacco industry is also feasible.
A cost recovery fee would generate $66 million in incremental annual government revenue, which could be used for government priorities.
Increasing the price of cigarettes is the most effective way 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.
Cigarette package health warnings in Canada have improved over time:
- In 1989, regulations required a series of 4 text warnings covering 20% of the package front and back.
- In 1994, regulations required text warnings in black and white to cover the top 35% of the package front and back.
- In 2001, Canada became the first country to require picture warnings and the first country to mandate 50% of the package front and back.
- In 2012, picture warnings were required to cover 75% of the package front and back. CCS strongly supports these warnings.
Canada’s warnings are now among the best in the world, but many product categories are not covered by these regulations. As a next step, the health minister 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.
Since 2008, the Canadian Cancer Society has published Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report approximately every 2 years. The report examines the use of cigarette package warnings by countries around the world and ranks countries based on warning size and if picture warnings are required.
The 2018 report is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Portuguese. You can access any of these versions at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids website.
Tobacco products in fruit, candy, and other flavours strongly appeal to youth. CCS is calling on the health minister 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 in 2017.
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. Many 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.
Tobacco control Ontario@(Model.HeadingTag)>
Every province and territory in Canada has different restrictions on tobacco use, sale and advertising. In Ontario, there is a lot the government can do to help protect against the harms of tobacco and to address the rising rates of youth vaping, including:
Implement a cost recovery fee on the tobacco industry
CCS is calling on the Government of Ontario to help hold the tobacco industry accountable for the damaging health effects of tobacco use by introducing a cost recovery fee on the tobacco industry. The fee should fund the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy. This approach is similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tobacco strategy fee (in place since 2009) and the Canadian federal cannabis annual regulatory fee. Manitoba, Quebec, and New Brunswick each have a provincial cost recovery mechanism in place for cannabis.
According to a 2019 Ipsos poll, 92% of Ontarians support making the tobacco industry pay for programs to reduce smoking. The fee would generate approximately $44 million in annual revenue for the Ontario government. Tobacco companies would pay a fee based on their market share.
Raise the tobacco tax
Ontario has the second lowest tobacco tax rate in Canada. Tobacco taxes are widely acknowledged to be the most effective tool to reduce smoking rates, particularly among youth. Higher cigarette prices discourage non-smokers from starting and former smokers from taking it up again. Unfortunately, Ontario has the second lowest tobacco tax rate in Canada. CCS continues to advocate for the Ontario government to increase the tobacco tax to be on par with the other provinces in Canada.
Implement a tax on e-cigarette products
E-Cigarette use among young people has increased dramatically. Data from the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs Survey indicates that youth vaping has doubled over a two-year period and tripled over a four-year period (2014-2019). Just as tobacco taxes are a highly effective means of preventing and reducing tobacco use among youth, the same is true for e-cigarettes. Youth have less disposable income and are more price-sensitive consumers.
The Canadian Cancer Society urges the Government of Ontario to address the dramatic increase in youth e-cigarette use by implementing a tax on e-cigarettes. In addition, a tax can serve as a revenue tool to fund programs to increase youth knowledge regarding the risks of vaping and as well as other initiatives to reduce youth use of e-cigarettes.
British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have announced taxes on vaping products. We urge Ontario to follow suit.
Raise the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21
Currently in Ontario, the minimum age for tobacco and e-cigarettes is 19. A study completed by the Institute of Medicine found that increasing the minimum age from 18 to 21 across the US would reduce youth smoking by 25% among 15-17-year-olds and by 15% among 18-19-year-olds by making these products harder to access. CCS is calling on the Ontario government to raise the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21, as it is in Prince Edward Island and across the United States in at least 18 states and 480 municipalities.