Canadian Cancer Society calls for continued commitment to tobacco control including action on cheap, illegal cigarettes



    Survey results show downward smoking trends flattened in Ontario

    TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - The easy availability of cheap and illegal
cigarettes, otherwise known as contraband tobacco, is undermining efforts to
reduce tobacco use in Ontario and leading to increased rates of lung cancer
and other illnesses.
    The 2008 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) results released
today show that smoking rates in Ontario are flattening after years of
decrease.
    The per cent of current Ontario smokers aged 15 and older for 2008 is
17%. This represents no statistically significant change since 2005.
    "The long downward trend of the number of smokers in Ontario has
flattened out and we're concerned," says the Honourable Susan Whelan, CEO,
Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. "We believe the government shares
our concern about smoking rates and look forward to a continued commitment to
tobacco control, including urgent action on contraband cigarettes."
    As tobacco use is the cause of about 30% of cancer deaths in Canada, the
easy availability of inexpensive cigarettes is a serious health issue.
    Contraband tobacco sells for as little as $6 for 200 cigarettes. This is
about a tenth of the cost of the lowest priced legal cigarettes.
    Close to a third (28%) of current smokers report they have recently
purchased at least one pack of contraband cigarettes in the last six months
prior to the 2007/2008 survey by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit. This
represents a large portion of cigarettes sold in this province.
    "Cheap cigarettes entice young people to start smoking and discourage
smokers from quitting," says Ms. Whelan. "The cost of cigarettes matters -
research shows that a 10% increase in the price of tobacco can result in a 4%
reduction in consumption - and this reduction is twice as high in the case of
youth."
    Polling results indicate that Ontarians support government action on
contraband. A poll conducted by Angus Reid Strategies in January showed that
two thirds (69%) of Ontarians agree the Ontario government must take swift
action to curb the supply of black market tobacco.
    Tackling flattening smoking rates also requires well resourced tobacco
control programs. A strong commitment to the Smoke-Free Ontario strategy is
necessary to ensure smoking rates begin to lower again.
    "The Canadian Cancer Society encourages the government of Ontario to
increase its commitment to the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy," says Ms. Whelan.
"Tobacco related illnesses cost the Ontario tax payer $1.6 billion in health
care expenses per year. Clearly battling tobacco deserves a well funded
strategy."
    In addition to addressing tobacco contraband, a well resourced tobacco
control strategy is also necessary to ensure smoking rates begin to lower
again.
    Cessation programs that help smokers quit, like the Canadian Cancer
Society's Smokers' Helpline, are also important to ensure smoking rates drop.

    
    -   Smokers' Helpline is a free, confidential service that offers
        support, advice and information about quitting smoking and tobacco
        use.
    -   Smokers' Helpline is available toll-free at 1 877 513-5333 or online
        at www.smokershelpline.ca
    

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of
the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more
about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual
Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Dykstra, Communications: (416)
323-7066, kdykstra@ontario.cancer.ca


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