Jones calls for tougher moves on illegal trade in tobacco

November 12, 2014   ·   0 Comments

Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones believes more should be done about illegal tobacco.

Her comments came after the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced late last week that they will be taking more action aimed at protecting children and youth from the harmful effects of smoking.

As of Jan. 1, 2015, it will be illegal to smoke on bar or restaurant patios, in playgrounds or on public sports field. As well, tobacco will not be sold on university or college campuses.

“I think there’s a role for government to play in trying to discourage smoking,” Ms. Jones said, but stressed she would like to see more done to address illegal cigarettes.

Preventing youth from starting to use tobacco and protecting them from the harmful effects of smoke supports Ontario’s goal to have the lowest smoking rate in the country, says a news release issued by the Province. It added  that tobacco claims about 13,000 lives in Ontario every year, or about 36 every day. Tobacco-related disease costs Ontario’s health care system an estimated $2.2 billion in direct health care costs and an additional $5.3 billion in indirect costs such as lost productivity.

The release also stated Ontario’s smoking rate fell from 24.5 per cent in 2000 to 18.1 per cent in 2013, representing 332,361 fewer smokers.

“If we prevent youth from taking up smoking in the first place, that will mean fewer smokers and healthier Ontarians,” commented Dipika Damerla, Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “We need to do everything we can to protect all Ontarians from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.”

“We applaud the government of Ontario for introducing these courageous new tobacco control measures that send a clear message that we need to continue to work together against the number one cause of preventable disease, death and cancer in this province,” added Rowena Pinto, vice-president of public affairs and strategic initiatives with the Ontario Division of the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Smoke-free patios are a critical next step in protecting servers and the public from toxic second-hand tobacco smoke,” observed Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco. “Equally important, they’ll remove tobacco use as an apparently ‘normal’ part of friends and families enjoying socializing over food and drinks: tobacco industry products, with no safe level of use and which kill one in two long-term users, are anything but normal. Kudos to the Minister and the government for this progressive move forward.”

“Good on them for doing a bit,” Ms. Jones commented. “But when are you going to concentrate on the illegal trade?”

There have also been questions as to whether the new restrictions will be enforcable, but Ms. Jones didn’t seem very concerned about that.

“We have lots of legislation like that,” she observed, adding in cases like this, there’s “more of a social enforcement than anything else. It’s a social change that’s happening in our society.”

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