Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Memo to McGuinty Government: Move to make Ontario tobacco free by 2030

By Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson, Toronto Star, October 19, 2010
Leery of charges that Dalton McGuinty is “Premier Dad,” the Liberals are shelving a new report recommending more curbs on cigarettes, including non-smoking clauses in apartment leases, generic packaging, and licensing of retailers.
In a 44-page blueprint entitled “Building On Our Gains, Taking Action Now: Ontario’s Tobacco Control Strategy for 2011-2016,” Ontario’s anti-smoking panel urged sweeping measures to reduce smoking.
With cigarettes contributing to the deaths of 13,000 Ontarians annually and costing the health-care system $6 billion a year, Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, said more must be done.“It’s time to change our approach,” Perley said Tuesday.
He is one of 25 leading health experts on the blue-ribbon panel struck by McGuinty’s government last year to design future anti-smoking strategies.
Among their 65 recommendations was a call to amend the Residential Tenancies Act so landlords could make “a non-smoking policy a material term of the lease” to protect tenants from neighbours’ second-hand smoke.
But McGuinty, who faces re-election on Oct. 6, 2011 and has in the past been accused by opponents of trying to socially engineer behaviour, quickly stamped out any further anti-smoking laws.
We often hear executives comment, "Some issues, if left alone, will disappear on their own."
Cigarette smoking, costing $6 BILLION in Ontario, and 13,000 DEATHS annually...is not going away, if the McGuinty government continues a "hands-off" approach to the new recommendations.
It is a "no-brainer" for a contemporaty government to step up to the plate and require apartment leases to include a clause prohibiting smoking. Licensing for retailers would be another move in the right direction.
Here is a summary of the recommendations of the committee taken from the actual report:
The use of tobacco products persist as the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario. This alone should be sufficient motivation for government and its partners to invest extensively in comprehensive tobacco control.
Nevertheless, members of the Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group were careful to achieve consensus only on those recommendations that are practical and achievable over time. The recommendations also take into consideration: public support, economic realities, and the responsibilities of different ministries within the Ontario government, several levels of government, and organizations both private and non-governmental.
Most of the following recommendations require action to be initiated in the first year of the government’s new five-year strategy, but acknowledge that some key elements will not fully materialize and be implemented until later in the five-year timeframe.
NOTE: The order in which recommendations are listed do not indicate relative priority or urgency.
Addressing the source of the problem in Ontario
De-normalize and de-legitimize the tobacco industry (Section 4.1)
Because tobacco products and the tobacco industry are ingrained into our culture, society and economy, this process of de-normalizing and de-legitimizing the tobacco industry and its products must happen at several levels: financial, government, and in the social environment.
Financial: divesting tobacco (4.1a) Divest provincial pension plans and other investments of tobacco holdings and amend legislation to allow other institutions (e.g., Ontario universities, hospitals) to divest their tobacco investment holdings.
Government: transparency and vigilance (4.1b) Implement the provisions under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 5.3 guidelines to prevent tobacco industry interference in the setting and implementing of tobacco control policies. Mitigate tobacco industry activities by establishing a quick response team of key public health, government and NGO leaders.
Social: counteract tobacco industry marketing to the consumer (4.1c)
The tobacco industry increasingly relies on innovative marketing tactics to sustain demand for their products, using the social and cultural environment that influences the behaviour of individuals and groups. Recommendations in this section reflect key components of marketing: “product and package” “price”, “placement” and “promotion”.
Product and Package: used by the tobacco industry to attract and retain customers
 Amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and Regulation to prohibit the distribution and sale of all flavoured tobacco products (excluding menthol).
 Ban flavourings in all smokeless tobacco products through regulations under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act within year one of the revised Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy,
 Ban smokeless tobacco products in Ontario by the end of the 5-year revised SFO Strategy.
 Mandate plain and standardized packaging (including both outside and inside the package).
 Prohibit the approval, sale and marketing of any new tobacco product or non-therapeutic nicotine product.
Price: low prices attract young people and reduce the incentive for smokers to quit
 Establish a minimum retail market price for tobacco products.
 Implement a substantial increase in provincial tobacco taxes.
 Increase cigarette taxes to address inflation and align with tax increases in other provinces.
 Mobilize municipal police and other enforcement personnel to assist in enforcing contraband controls:
• Empowerment of municipal police
• Establish joint operation groups
• Educate and empower non-police officials
 Apply a provincial tax-paid marking to every cigarette sold in Ontario, in order to help distinguish tax-paid, legally tax-exempt products from contraband.
 Develop and fund a broad anti-contraband public education program targeting both youth who use contraband and their parents to lay the groundwork for proactive enforcement activities.
 Engage in dialogue with First Nations leadership and communities to:
• achieve a mutually-satisfactory approach to stop the sales of tax-exempt tobacco to ineligible individuals and
• develop and implement strategies to address the production, distribution and sale of contraband tobacco.
 Reform the provincial allocation system by either reducing the allocation or establishing a provincial refund/rebate system for tax-exempt, legally
manufactured tobacco products supplied to a reserve.
 Implement tax markings/stamps, a tracking and tracing system and enhance enforcement (border controls, investigations, intelligence, inspections and seizures) for tobacco products.
 Reduce non-retail supply of tobacco products to underage youth with a focus on public education, and enforcement specific to youth and young adult settings.
Placement: 14,000 tobacco retailers in our communities and around our schools
 Move toward a system of designated sales outlets, by employing methods such as licensing strategies and zoning by-laws, to continuously reduce the number of tobacco retailers and locations permitted to sell tobacco products.
 Increase the number of specific places that are prohibited from selling tobacco products to match or exceed bans in leading Canadian provinces.
 Develop and implement tobacco vendor compliance strategies that continue to reduce availability of cigarettes to underage youth.
 Require, by statute, that tobacco manufacturers (including importers selling tobacco products in Ontario) meet stated annual reductions in the number of under-aged tobacco users in Ontario.
Promotion: even the act of smoking is part of tobacco industry promotion
 Refresh the tobacco product package-based health warning system in a timely and continuous manner, ensure that a 1-800 cessation helpline number is included as part of the health warning system, and align mass media campaigns with these warnings.
 Close existing exemptions on tobacco product advertising and promotion.
 Introduce legislation to further restrict marketing via tobacco product packaging, tobacco related accessories, movies and other forms of media.
 Further decrease the visibility of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke in public, particularly on patios, in front of doorways, outdoor sport and recreation spaces using regulatory and awareness raising tools.
 Require adult ratings for movies (18A) and video games (Mature) with any tobacco imagery.
Increase control over tobacco growing, manufacturing and importing (Section 4.2)
As long as tobacco products remain a legal product, more needs to be done to monitor all aspects of growing, manufacturing and importing to ensure that materials — including raw tobacco leaf, cigarette filters and papers — do not fuel the production of contraband tobacco products.
 Legislate tobacco manufacturer reporting requirements that match or exceed what is currently required by the Federal government.
 Work to control tobacco farming by creating a “task group” with key partners (for example, OMAFRA, NGOs, farmers, and other stakeholders) to develop recommendations for reducing tobacco farming. Recommendations may include:
freezing the number of licenses issued by the marketing board;
ensuring licenses remain non-transferable;
putting a ceiling on acreage used for tobacco growing; and
switching to acreage contracts as opposed to contracts by weight.
 Prohibit the supply of raw leaf tobacco to unlicensed manufacturers, importers, storers or carriers by requiring all Ontario tobacco manufacturers, importers, storers or carriers to have provincial permits, and rendering raw leaf subject to seizure if no such permit exists.
Ending the cycle of addiction: preventing new tobacco users and helping existing users to quit
Efforts to decrease the supply of tobacco products must be simultaneous with measures to decrease the demand for tobacco products.
Preventing young people from getting addicted to tobacco products (Section 5.1)
With more than 13,000 Ontario former customers dying each year, and thousands quitting, the tobacco industry needs new customers to help maintain its business.
 Implement media and social marketing strategies using traditional and non-traditional media (e.g., viral and interactive media channels) to change social norms related to tobacco use.
 Align initiatives in schools, colleges, universities and communities with other activities (e.g., media and social marketing, policy interventions) within the provincial tobacco-control strategy, including:
 the development, implementation and enforcement of comprehensive youth and young adult tobacco control policies within and across settings (e.g., schools, colleges, universities and communities); and
the development of programs/initiatives that enable the mobilization of youth, through peer-to-peer approaches to decrease the social norm associated with using tobacco products, protection from exposure to tobacco industry product use and the de-normalization of the tobacco industry;
 Require ads that aim to de-normalize tobacco companies and decrease the social norm associated with tobacco products preceding all movies and video games that contain tobacco imagery, as well as warnings on movie and video game packaging.
 Require, by statute, that tobacco manufacturers (including importers selling tobacco products in Ontario) meet stated annual reductions in the number of under-aged tobacco users in Ontario.

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