TORONTO, Nov. 24, 2014 /CNW/ - The Heart and Stroke Foundation is delighted at today's Government of Ontario announcement that the "Making Healthier Choices Act" has been brought forward immediately to protect youth from the deadly effects of tobacco, and to improve the heart health of Ontarians by helping them make healthier choices.
"The Heart and Stroke Foundation commends the Ontario government's commitment to reducing obesity and smoking rates in the province," says Mark Holland, Executive Director, Ontario Mission, Heart and Stroke Foundation. "This legislation will protect our children and youth from the deadly effects of tobacco use and will help empower all Ontarians in making the healthy choice the easy choice when it comes to what we eat and feed our families. This comprehensive legislation will go a long way towards helping Ontarians live healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke."
Every seven minutes a Canadian dies from heart disease and stroke, and 1.6 million Canadians are living with the effects of heart disease and stroke. Yet, up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable. Healthy public policies, like the measures announced today, play a significant role in improving the health of all Ontarians.
This comprehensive bill demonstrates the government's commitment to achieve the lowest smoking rate in Canada. If passed, the proposed legislation includes:
- Banning the sale of e-cigarettes in the same places where the sale of tobacco is prohibited under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA);
- Prohibiting the display and promotion of e-cigarettes in places where e-cigarettes or tobacco products are sold, or offered for sale;
- Banning the sale of flavoured tobacco products targeted at kids, with a temporary exemption to allow the sale of menthol flavoured tobacco products for a period of up to two years;
- Increasing fines for those who sell tobacco to youth, making Ontario's penalties the highest in Canada, and
- Strengthening enforcement to allow for testing of tobacco in waterpipes in indoor public places.
"The Heart and Stroke Foundation has worked tirelessly over the past 50 years to reduce smoking rates and has seen great success," Holland adds. "We strongly support these measures, in particular the decision to protect youth from flavoured tobacco, including menthol, and the potential harm of electronic cigarettes."
Approximately 12 per cent of high school students smoke, and 18 per cent have smoked in the past 30 days. Of those who used any tobacco product, 50 per cent of those reported using flavoured tobacco products. Disturbing trends among young Ontario menthol smokers show that one in four Ontario high schoolers have smoked menthol cigarettes in the last 30 days (Canada's 2012/2013 Youth Smoking Survey).
There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Although smoking rates are at an all-time low of 18 per cent, more than 13,000 Ontarians still die each year from tobacco-related illness, including heart disease and stroke. In Ontario, tobacco-related disease results in approximately $1.6 billion in healthcare costs annually, $4.4 billion in productivity losses, at least 500,000 hospital days and 13,000 deaths each year.
A long-time advocate for tobacco control legislation, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has worked with its partners to lead public education campaigns, and to strengthen legislation and regulations pertaining to second-hand smoke, tobacco-related pricing, labelling, advertising and sponsorship. We continue to advocate for healthy public policies and additional measures to help Ontarians make informed and healthy decisions when eating out, reducing sugar intake and restricting commercial marketing of all foods and beverages to children.
About the Heart and Stroke Foundation
The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. 'Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen'. Heartandstroke.ca
The proposed bill would also make Ontario the first province to require food service premises with 20 or more locations in Ontario to post calories on menus. This would help Ontarians make informed choices when eating out or purchasing takeout meals.
The proposed Making Healthier Choices Act combines a bill with the same name introduced on Feb. 24, 2014 and the Youth Smoking Prevention Act, introduced on Nov. 18, 2013.
- Ontario also intends to amend a regulation to further restrict smoking on outdoor grounds of hospitals and on specified provincial government properties.
- Each year, tobacco claims 13,000 lives in Ontario — equivalent to 36 lives every day.
- One in four Ontario high school smokers have smoked menthol cigarettes in the last 30 days (Canada's 2012/2013 Youth Smoking Survey).
- Up to 60 per cent of large chain restaurants with more than 20 locations in Ontario already provide nutritional information voluntarily to their customers (upon demand, on websites or in store).
- Approximately 95 per cent of Ontarians support requiring fast food restaurants to list nutrition information on their menus (Ipsos Reid, 2011).
SOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario
For further information: Alex Maheux, Manager, Communications, Ontario, Heart and Stroke Foundation, 647-943-3178, C 416 729 5913, E [email protected]