Health Canada's Tobacco Control Strategy
The Government of Canada will invest over $480 million (including $58 million in existing funding) in Health Canada's Tobacco Control Strategy over the next five years -- almost five times the investment that was made in the previous initiative, which is
The funding will be allocated to key areas of tobacco control that have been proven effective both in Canada and other jurisdictions. It will bolster existing Health Canada programs, while directing $210 million to mass-media campaigns which have a special emphasis on youth and other high-risk populations.
Experience has shown that successful approaches to tobacco control need to be comprehensive, integrated and sustained, and that high-profile, ongoing mass-media campaigns are the anchor. The new strategy encompasses all of these elements as well as clear, achievable targets and evaluation methods.
10-YEAR MEASURABLE TARGETS
To gauge the success of the strategy, the Government of Canada has set out clear, measurable targets, and will report to the public on the progress being made. These targets are:
Reduce the number of people who smoke from 25 to 20 per cent of the population.
Decrease the number of cigarettes sold by 30 per cent.
Increase retailer compliance with tobacco-sales-to-youth laws from 69 to 80 per cent.
Changes in these areas will be measured through ongoing monitoring activities such as the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey conducted for Health Canada by Statistics Canada to provide continual data on tobacco use in Canada. Retailer compliance surveys and data gathered from the tobacco industry under stringent new federal reporting requirements will also be used. A progress report on activities will be issued in two years, and a further report will be issued in five years based on the evaluation of the strategy.
COMPONENTS OF THE STRATEGY
Strategies that have worked well in jurisdictions such as California, Massachusetts, and British Columbia, show that a combination of various types of tobacco control efforts, supported by strong and sustained media campaigns do reduce smoking rates. Successful tobacco control programs target all ages.
Sustained Mass-Media Campaigns
Approximately 40 per cent of annual funding will be allotted to mass-media campaigns targeted at Canadians of all age groups, with a special emphasis on youth and other high-risk populations. They will be carried out in partnership with stakeholders including national health and tobacco control organizations. The mass-media campaigns will strengthen and support all other tobacco control efforts carried out by Health Canada.
Enhanced Health Canada Tobacco Control Activities
The Tobacco Control Strategy builds upon the activities and directions of recent years through mutually reinforcing components: protection, prevention, cessation and harm reduction. A key feature of the strategy will be to educate Canadians about the marketing tactics and other practices of the tobacco industry.
Compliance with Health Canada legislation is a priority, particularly to ensure that the more than 60,000 tobacco retailers in Canada don't sell to youth.
A critical aspect of this component is the protection of non-smokers, especially youth, from the effects of environmental tobacco smoke.
As it has in the past with initiatives such as the new tobacco health warning messages, research will provide evidence and support for all programs and any new regulations.
Expertise will be provided to municipalities and others to assist in the adoption of non-smoking rules and by-laws.
The Government of Canada will continue to defend the Tobacco Act and Government's position in tobacco-related litigation.
Prevention very much focuses on youth. Resources and activities will be developed to engage them in developing effective programs and strategies for their peers.
Health Canada will provide health policy assistance to the Department of Finance in developing effective tax strategies. Taxation is an important element of tobacco control, as it has clearly been shown to reduce consumption, particularly among youth.
The strategy calls for building upon existing web-based and printed resources to inform health-care professionals, teachers and others working with youth.
Partnerships are critical to the implementation of an integrated program. The Government of Canada will work with the provinces, territories and NGOs to build on existing networks, and to enhance the ability of communities to act on this issue.
Cessation has the most potential in terms of decreasing health care, social and economic costs in the next 30 to 50 years. Cessation is focussed mostly on adults, although getting young smokers to quit is also very important.
Steps will be taken to address the need for national standards, including clinical practice guidelines and tools that engage health professionals in the promotion of smoking cessation.
The strategy aims to enhance public access to programs, resources and information on best practices.
Despite the best efforts to reduce smoking among Canadians, there are some who will continue to smoke. Health Canada will continue to exercise its responsibility to regulate products in such a way as to reduce the risk from tobacco use. We will work in collaboration with the United States and other countries to ensure that any changes to the product would have only positive health impacts on the smoker or those exposed to the smoke.
First Nations and Inuit
The strategy involves a First Nations and Inuit initiative, which is intended to: influence behaviours and attitudes related to smoking, especially among youth; help build the capacity of communities to address the health issues around tobacco use; and improve retailer compliance on sales to youth on reserve through increased education. Consultations will begin immediately with representatives of First Nations and Inuit associations to determine how best to address the unique challenges tobacco use causes in their communities.