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The Alliance for a Tobacco Free Ontario applauds the Chief Medical Officer Health of Ontario for a comprehensive 2023 Annual Report addressing tobacco and vape use

 TORONTO, April 12, 2024 – In March 2024, the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) for Ontario released an extensive report focused on substance use and its detrimental effects. The report presents a strong strategic plan aimed at addressing tobacco and vape use and its repercussions. The Alliance for a Tobacco Free Ontario (ATFO) which includes the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke, the Canadian Lung Association, the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Public Health Association, the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, and the Lung Health Foundation strongly supports the report and its recommendations, particularly its holistic strategy for tackling not only tobacco and vaping use, but also other new nicotine products, essential for protecting Ontarians. 

ATFO applauds the Government of Ontario’s recent leadership in addressing the youth vaping crisis by implementing a vape tax and encourages the ongoing prioritization of such upstream and effective measures. Accordingly, we urge Ontario to take a closer examination of the CMOH report and adopt its recommendations for the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy. A comprehensive approach and a strategic road map such as the one outlined in the CMOH report is fundamental to reducing tobacco and vape use among individuals and youth in Ontario. 

This approach should include adopting the following measures as recommended in the CMOH report: 

  • Raising the minimum legal age for purchasing both tobacco and vaping products to 21 years old; 
  • Increasing the provincial sales tax on tobacco products and incrementally raising the tax annually to keep up with inflation; 
  • Maintaining the provincial sales tax on vaping and increasing it annually to keep pace with inflation; 
  • Restricting the online and social media advertising of tobacco and vaping products, the type of branding and design for e-cigarettes, as well as banning online sales; 
  • Capping the number of tobacco and e-cigarette stores in a municipality/region, and prohibit new stores from being located within 200 metres of a school or an existing store; 
  • Prohibiting manufacturers from giving promotional incentives to retailers (e.g. discounts, sales volume bonuses); 
  • Imposing a retailer licensing fee for retailers or tobacco and vaping products; 
  • Banning disposable vaping products; and 
  • Adopting regulatory framework to include new non-tobacco nicotine products such as nicotine pouches and ensure these products are not sold to youth and non-smokers. 

As the report outlines, the serious harms associated with smoking tobacco were identified almost 60 years ago. Since then, Ontario has introduced a range of initiatives, such as the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy. As a result, between 1999 and 2020, the province saw a significant and steady decline in the number of people who smoke tobacco, and in smoking rates across all age groups. 

However, despite progress, Ontario has fallen behind other provinces in its use of taxation policy to reduce smoking. It also falls short of covering the health care and other costs associated with tobacco use. In order to cover these costs, ATFO encourages the government of Ontario to adopt a tobacco cost recovery fee. Each year, the government spends approximately $44M to fund the Smoke Free Ontario strategy, with prevention, cessation, compliance and enforcement programs, a cost that is ultimately borne by the taxpayer. A cost recovery fee on tobacco companies will hold Big Tobacco accountable for the ongoing harm inflicted on society, reposition the cost to industry while removing the current burden from the government and taxpayers. A cost recovery fee could generate at least $44 million per year at a time when public finances are under pressure. 

While we are pleased with the recent vape tax, we hope that measures as suggested by Ontario’s top doctor in his 2024 report, as well as ATFO’s recommendations are given due consideration. We look forward to working with the Ministries of Finance and Health to continue to work towards Canada’s goal of reducing tobacco use to less than 5% of the population by 2035.

Media Contact: 

Hillary Buchan-Terrell, Co-Chair, ATFO 

Email: Cell: 416-705-4750 

Orli Joseph, Co-Chair, ATFO 


Cell: 647-298-9022 

The following organizations support this call to action:

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