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Ontario Lung Association welcomes anti-smoking measures announced in budget

Feb 25, 2016

Toronto – The Ontario Lung Association is welcoming new measures to reduce smoking rates in the province, announced in today’s provincial budget by Finance Minister Charles Sousa.

Minister Sousa said the government plans to spend an additional $5 million to provide priority populations with access to smoking cessation services. And the government has raised the tobacco tax from 13.97 cents to 15.47 cents per cigarette, representing an increase of $3 in the price of a carton of 200 cigarettes. From next year the tobacco tax will increase automatically with the rate of inflation.

“We applaud the government’s ongoing commitment to reduce the huge human and economic cost of tobacco use in Ontario,” said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association. “Investments in smoking cessation programs, including access to prescription and over-the-counter medication and behavioural counselling to help smokers quit, pay almost immediate dividends in reduced health-care costs.”

Habib said there is still room for far more decisive action on tobacco taxes. “Factoring in the increase announced today, Ontario will still have the second cheapest cigarettes in Canada,” he said. “The government must make more effective use of this important tool to drive down smoking rates and ensure that all Ontarians can breathe with ease.”

Habib also welcomed the government’s commitment to increase funding to hospitals and home and community care as well as the $130 million increase for cancer care services and prevention programs.

Elsewhere in the budget, no news was bad news for the one in five Ontarians living with chronic lung disease.  “There are still significant gaps in care for the 2.4 million people in this province who suffer from respiratory illnesses,” said Habib.  “Action to address the rising human and economic burden of lung disease is long overdue. We look forward to working with the government, and with local health care and planning organizations, to ensure that these needs are addressed.”

CONTACT: John Chenery 647-293-9911