RE­PORT URGES BOOST IN SMOKE TAXES

Toronto Sun - - FRONT PAGE - ANTONELLA ARTUSO

A new anti-tobacco strat­egy calls for sky-high in­creases in taxes, a forced re­duc­tion in tobacco re­tail­ers, a min­i­mum pur­chase age of 21 and a ban on all smok­ing dis­plays, in­clud­ing va­p­ing para­pher­na­lia.

The Smoke-Free On­tario Mod­ern­iza­tion re­port re­leased Thurs­day says the prov­ince has made real progress in slow­ing down the rates of smok­ing, but it’s not enough.

“Al­most one in five On­tar­i­ans still smokes,” the re­port says. “Our smok­ing rates have not de­clined sig­nif­i­cantly over the past few years.

“Most On­tar­i­ans who smoke want to quit, but the easy avail­abil­ity of in­ex­pen­sive tobacco at just about ev­ery cor­ner cou­pled with the lack of rou­tine, on­go­ing sup­port and treat­ment pre­vent them from over­com­ing this pow­er­ful ad­dic­tion and quit­ting suc­cess­fully,” it says.

The re­port was pre­pared by an ex­pert com­mit­tee to pro­vide ad­vice to Health Min­is­ter Eric Hoskins, who will is­sue a re­sponse in the com­ing weeks.

“Our govern­ment is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing peo­ple in quit­ting smok­ing and ad­dress­ing the chang­ing land­scape of emerg­ing smok­ing prod­ucts and sub­stances,” Hoskins said in a state­ment.

How­ever, it seems un­likely that he would fol­low through on the pro­posal to raise the min­i­mum pur­chase age for tobacco to 21 from the cur­rent 19, be­cause his govern­ment only re­cently an­nounced the min­i­mum age to pur­chase mar­i­juana will be 19.

Dave Bryans, CEO of the On­tario Con­ve­nience Stores As­so­ci­a­tion (OCSA), said in an e-mail that they’re re­view­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions, but added cor­ner store re­tail­ers have proven to be best at han­dling tobacco prod­ucts.

“Smoke Free On­tario through FOI con­ducts over 20,000 un­der­age shops a year where our pass rate as de­clared by govern­ment data is 95.7% demon­strat­ing the most re­spon­si­ble re­tail­ers of age re­stricted prod­ucts,” Bryans said.

The re­port says On­tario should also:

As­sign an adult rat­ing of 18A for movies with tobacco im­agery.

Make all On­tario col­lege and univer­sity cam­puses tobacco free.

Al­low land­lords to re­quire a smoke-free clause in a lease, and to evict any ten­ant who vi­o­lates it.

Raise taxes on all tobacco prod­ucts un­til they’re the high­est in Canada.

Pro­hibit tobacco man­u­fa­tur­ersor re­tail­ers from of­fer­ing vol­ume dis­counts or pro­mo­tions such as free lighters.

Ban tobacco man­u­fac­turer in­cen­tives to re­tail­ers, such as va­ca­tions.

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