Steeper taxes on vape products could open the doors to a Smoke-Free Generation
TORONTO, November 3, 2023 – The Lung Health Foundation applauds the Ontario government for opting into the federal government’s tax on vape products – a move the Foundation cites as a positive step toward addressing a growing youth vaping crisis.
Announced in the province’s fall economic statement on November 2, this excise tax will make Ontario the latest of several provinces to implement higher provincial taxes on vape products, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Canada-wide, the Lung Health Foundation estimates that more than 750,000 young people aged 15 to 30 vape daily. Only a small percentage of those have ever smoked before, which means that vaping is introducing the next generation to the harmful effects of nicotine addiction without the pretense of harm reduction. This tax is the first crucial step in addressing this crisis.
“In this challenging economy, raising the total price of a vape cartridge, pen or pod really can make a difference, especially among our nation’s youth,” says Erin Dufour, manager of the Lung Health Foundation’s youth cessation program, Quash. “It’s why we built a feature into our Quash app that lets users estimate how much they’ll save by quitting..” Curious youth can check their projected savings by downloading the free app at quashapp.com.
Worldwide, tax policies have a well-established track record for deterring the consumption of products that pose health risks, but the promising economics of a vape excise tax go beyond the individual. With an estimated $49 million of new projected revenue, the Lung Health Foundation hopes that the Ontario government will consider investing that money back into mental health services and cessation programs like Quash to address some of the root causes of youth vaping and provide resources to those who want to quit.
“The vape tax commitment is a positive, evidence-based step towards addressing a looming youth vaping crisis,” says Jessica Buckley, President & CEO of the Lung Health Foundation. “This momentum could even open doors towards groundbreaking measures like a Smoke-Free, Vape-Free generation.”
Advocating for a Smoke-Free Generation
News of Ontario’s adoption of the federal vape excise tax comes on the heels of the Lung Health Foundation’s recent advocacy in Ottawa with the National Lung Health Alliance, where meetings called for a federally-driven Smoke-Free Generation aimed at protecting future generations from the harms of smoking and vaping alike.
A Smoke-Free Generation would mandate that youth born after a certain date would never be able to legally purchase cigarettes, effectively raising the minimum age of sale every year until smoking is phased out altogether. The Lung Health Foundation was recently in Ottawa to meet with policy makers about bringing the concept to Canada.
The Smoke-Free generation movement has gained steam, having been recently adopted by the governments of both New Zealand and the UK. However, these initiatives do not currently include vape products, a glaring oversight that the Lung Health Foundation encourages Canadian lawmakers to consider when crafting the Canadian version of this groundbreaking legislation.
Facts & Figures
- Youth vaping is NOT data-backed harm reduction: Though initially marketed to adults as an alternative to smoking, vaping has achieved a loyal audience among youth. Only 6% of youth vapers (15-19) are former smokers. Source: Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey (CTNS): 2020 detailed tables – Canada.ca
- Youth vaping is worsening health equity. LGBTQ+ youth are 1.5 times more likely to vape than their heterosexual and/or cisgender peers, and Indigenous youth are 1.5 times more likely to vape than their non-Indigenous peers. Indigenous youth are 1.5 times more likely compared to non-Indigenous Youth. Source: Depression & anxiety symptoms linked to vaping nicotine and THC in teens and young adults | American Heart Association
- Youth who vape are 3.6 times more likely to start to smoke cigarettes later. The health and economic costs associated with tobacco use in Canada are estimated at $12.3 billion annually with $6.1 billion in direct health care costs. Source: Jenssen BP, Wilson KM. What is new in electronic-cigarettes research? Current Opinion in Pediatrics. 2019;31(2):262–266. doi: 10.1097/mop.0000000000000741
About the Lung Health Foundation
The Lung Health Foundation is dedicated to ending gaps in the prevention, diagnosis, and care of lung disease in Canada. We invest in the future by driving ground-breaking research, and we give patients and their families the programs and support they need today.
For free one-on-one support from a Certified Tobacco Educator, call the Lung Health Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864). Visit www.lunghealth.ca for more information.
Senior Manager, Programs and Research