Montréal’s Director of Public Health Calls for a Stronger Tobacco Act

MONTREAL, Aug. 20, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ – During the hearings of the Commission de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Assemblée nationale concerning the report on the implementation of the Tobacco Act, Dr. Richard Massé, the director of public health of the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal, is calling for the Tobacco Act to be strengthened as quickly as possible to hasten the decrease in prevalence of smoking in the city’s population. He is making 10 recommendations to update the Act, which has not been revised in 8 years even though the tobacco market has changed significantly.“On the island of Montréal, about 22% of Montrealers smoke, one of the highest figures for Canadian cities,” says Dr. Massé. In his paper, he reminds readers that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and kills one in two smokers. Several studies have shown that the life expectancy of regular smokers is 10 years less than in the general population.

Reduce Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS)
To make it easier to apply the Act and to better protect the population, Dr. Massé recommends a complete ban on smoking indoors and around health and social services establishments including youth centres and mental health or addiction institutions. This measure must also ensure that smoking cessation services are readily available.The director also recommends banning smoking in cars with children under 16 to protect infants and children against ETS. He maintains that Québec is the only Canadian province that has not adopted a law that prohibits smoking in cars with children.

To Counter Marketing Strategies That Target Youth 
To counter the tobacco industry’s marketing strategies that especially target young people, the director recommendsbanning flavoured products, adopting a moratorium on new tobacco products, and forcing the industry to use neutral and uniform packaging for its products. In addition, electronic nicotine-free cigarettes currently on the market should fall under the provisions of the Tobacco Act to prevent their sale to minors and discourage children from adopting smoking behaviours. Dr. Massé also recommends raising to 20$ the minimum purchase price of single or several tobacco products other than cigarettes. Furthermore, since the use of water pipes (shisha or hookah) is increasingly popular among young people and wrongly considered to be less harmful than cigarettes, the director recommends banning shisha lounges.

Monitor Access to Tobacco Products
Since the number of stores selling tobacco products in neighbourhoods can influence use of these products, the director recommends implementing an effective system to monitor these points of sale.

Increase the Price of Tobacco Products
The World Health Organization recognizes that increasing taxes on tobacco products is the most effective way to reduce smoking among both youth and adults. In a context in which Québec is the Canadian province where the price of cigarettes is lowest, the director would like to remind the provincial government of the importance of raising the tax on tobacco products, even though this measure does not come under the Tobacco Act.

Adopt Effective Legislation
Legislation is one of the best ways to control tobacco use, protect non-smokers and create an anti-tobacco norm. “The current Act restricts the effectiveness of the efforts made by the health and social services and the education networks. It hinders our capacity to reach the objectives set out in our 2012-2015 tobacco control blueprint (Plan de lutte contre le tabagisme 2012-2015), which is part of the Montréal sans tabac initiative to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use to 16% in adults and 13% in young people,” concludes Dr. Massé.

To access the paper, go to the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal website.

SOURCE Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal

 For further information:

Source:
Direction de santé publique
Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal

For information:
Marie-Josée Thibert
Media relations
514-286-5709

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