Ontario Government Moving Forward With Smoke Free Ontario

Archived Release

Ontario Government Moving Forward With Smoke Free Ontario

Ministry of Finance

Tobacco Tax Increase Third Step In Plan To Bring Ontario To National Average TORONTO, Jan. 18 - As part of its Smoke-Free Ontario campaign, the Ontario government will increase tobacco taxes by $1.25 per carton as of midnight tonight, Finance Minister Greg Sorbara announced today. "Today's announcement is part of our comprehensive strategy to eliminate tobacco consumption, especially among young people," Sorbara said. "With this increase, Ontario comes one step closer to its plan to raise tobacco taxes to the national average." The increased tobacco tax will raise the cost of a pack of 20 cigarettes by approximately 13 cents and a package of 25 by 16 cents. The increase brings Ontario closer to the national average for tobacco taxes. The 2004 provincial budget strengthened enforcement against the illegal manufacturing, sale and purchase of tobacco products. Measures include improved enforcement tools, such as new offence provisions, stiffer fines and prison terms for certain offenses, as well as new and better tools for inspectors and law enforcement officials. "We're making this change during National Non-Smoking Week, when people are already paying more attention to the ill effects of smoking," Sorbara said. "Smoking is the number one preventable cause of premature death and illness in Ontario and it costs an estimated $1.7 billion a year in health care spending to treat diseases directly caused by tobacco." Other components of the government's Smoke-Free Ontario campaign include legislation to protect people from second-hand smoke through a smoking ban in all workplaces and public places, and initiatives to prevent young people from starting to smoke. As well, the government is providing $1.6 million to Smokers' Helpline, which provides advice, self-help materials, support and referrals to callers who are trying to quit smoking. Disponible en fran├žais For more information visit www.gov.on.ca/finFor further information: Contact: Diane Flanagan, Minister's Office, (416) 212-0634; Manuel Alas-Sevillano, Ministry of Finance, (416) 212-2155