Health Experts Call For Increase In Cigarette Taxes

November 24, 1998

Ontario's cheap cigarettes undermine a provincial strategy to control the smoking epidemic, says a report from the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit.

"There is solid evidence that increasing the price of cigarettes reduces cigarette consumption," says Roberta Ferrence, director of the unit, a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and a professor in U of T's public health sciences department. Raising cigarette taxes would be a strong deterrent for youth who are more affected by increased prices than adults. "They're too young to experience most of the major health effects that occur in older smokers and don't have the same incentive to quit."

Ontario has the lowest-priced cigarettes of any province in Canada or bordering U.S. states, says the Ontario Tobacco Strategy: Progress Toward Our Goals 1997/1998, a report written by Ferrence and five researchers. The price for a large pack ranges from $3.95 in Ontario to $7.34 in Newfoundland. An increase of 25 per cent ($1 per pack) would bring Ontario prices close to those in New York State, Ferrence says. The price, she adds, would still be lower than the average in other provinces.

Ontario used to be the national leader in initiatives to reduce smoking, Ferrence says. However, in the past four years the province has fallen behind. Since the early 1990s, smoking has increased among Ontario's youth and declining rates of adult smokers have levelled off. "Research suggests a synergy results when several different strategies are implemented at the same time," she says. "Since a key tactic to reduce smoking -- increasing the price of cigarettes -- has not been implemented, the overall effectiveness of our efforts is being compromised."

Smoking is estimated to cost the provincial government over $ 3.7 billion annually, including more than $1 billion in health care costs and $2.6 billion in loss of productivity due to premature death and disability. Almost 12,000 people die each year in Ontario from smoking-related diseases.
The research unit, a network funded by the provincial Ministry of Health, is part of U of T's Centre for Health Promotion. This report is the fourth in an annual series monitoring progress toward the objectives of the Ontario Tobacco Strategy. Other report authors are Dr. Thomas Stephens of Thomas Stephens & Associates, Dr. Thomas Abernathy of the Central West Health Planning Information Network, Dr. Mary Jane Ashley of U of T, Dr. Stephen Brown of the University of Waterloo and Dr. William Pickett of Queen's University.

Professor Roberta Ferrence, department of public health sciences, 416-595-6889, e-mail:,
Dr. Thomas Stephens, 613-692-6092, e-mail:
or Christina Marshall, U of T public affairs, 416-978-5949,

University of Toronto

Related Smoking Articles from Brightsurf:

Smoking rates falling in adults, but stroke survivors' smoking rates remain steady
While the rate of Americans who smoke tobacco has fallen steadily over the last two decades, the rate of stroke survivors who smoke has not changed significantly.

What is your risk from smoking? Your network knows!
A new study from researchers at Penn's Annenberg School for Communication found that most people, smokers and non-smokers alike, were nowhere near accurate in their answers to questions about smoking's health effects.

Want to quit smoking? Partner up
Kicking the habit works best in pairs. That's the main message of a study presented today at EuroPrevent 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Smoking and mortality in Asia
In this analysis of data from 20 studies conducted in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India with more than 1 million participants, deaths associated with smoking continued to increase among men in Asia grouped by the years in which they were born.

Predictors of successfully quitting smoking among smokers registered at the quit smoking clinic at a public hospital in northeastern Malaysia
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health, Nur Izzati Mohammad et al. consider how cigarette smoking is one of the risk factors leading to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory system diseases and cancer.

Restaurant and bar smoking bans do reduce smoking, especially among the highly educated
Smoking risk drops significantly in college graduates when they live near areas that have completely banned smoking in bars and restaurants, according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

How the UK smoking ban increased wellbeing
Married women with children reported the largest increase in well-being following the smoking bans in the UK in 2006 and 2007 but there was no comparable increase for married men with children.

Smoking study personalizes treatment
A simple blood test is allowing Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researchers to determine which patients should be prescribed varenicline (Chantix) to stop smoking and which patients could do just as well, and avoid side effects, by using a nicotine patch.

A biophysical smoking gun
While much about Alzheimer's disease remains a mystery, scientists do know that part of the disease's progression involves a normal protein called tau, aggregating to form ropelike inclusions within brain cells that eventually strangle the neurons.

A case where smoking helped
A mutation in the hemoglobin of a young woman in Germany was found to cause her mild anemia.

Read More: Smoking News and Smoking Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to