Ontario Takes Action to Reduce Smoking and Obesity Rates
New Measures Introduced to Help Families Make Healthier Lifestyle Choices
Ontario is introducing legislation today to protect youth from the dangers of tobacco and the potential harms of electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes. Also included in the legislation are measures to help families make healthier food choices by giving them caloric information when eating out or purchasing take-away meals.
Today's introduction of the Making Healthier Choices Act, 2014 supports the government's commitment to achieve the lowest smoking rate in Canada. If passed, the proposed legislation would:
- Ban the sale and supply of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19.
- Prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in certain places where the smoking of tobacco is prohibited.
- Ban the sale of e-cigarettes in certain places where the sale of tobacco is prohibited.
- Prohibit the display and promotion of e-cigarettes in places where e-cigarettes or tobacco products are sold, or offered for sale.
- Ban the sale of flavoured tobacco products, with a delayed implementation date for menthol-flavoured tobacco products.
- Increase maximum fines for those who sell tobacco to youth, making Ontario's maximum fines the highest in Canada.
- Strengthen enforcement to allow for testing of substances used in waterpipes (e.g. hookahs, shisha) in indoor public places.
These measures are part of the government's efforts to make Ontario the healthiest place in North America to grow up and grow old. The proposed bill, if passed would also:
- Require calories for standard food and beverage items, including alcohol, to be posted on menus and menu boards in restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and other food service premises with 20 or more locations in Ontario;
- Require food service operators to post contextual information that would help to educate patrons about their daily caloric requirements;
- Authorize public health inspectors to enforce menu labelling requirements.
This supports Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care. It is also part of the Ontario government's four part economic plan to build Ontario up by investing in people's talent and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.
- The proposed Making Healthier Choices Act includes provisions from a bill with the same name introduced on February 24, 2014 and provisions from the Youth Smoking Prevention Act, 2013 introduced on November 18, 2013.
- Ontario also intends to amend Ontario Regulation 48/06 made under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to further restrict smoking on outdoor grounds of hospitals and to prohibit smoking 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).
“The health impacts related to smoking and obesity are serious issues affecting our children and youth, as well as the sustainability of our health care system. That’s why we have introduced legislation that, if passed, would help Ontarians to make well-informed choices of what they eat and feed their children, to protect youth from tobacco products and e-cigarettes, and to further limit exposure to second-hand smoke in public areas. Today, we are investing in our future by continuing to promote healthy habits and behaviours – as we encourage all Ontarians to eat well and lead smoke-free lives.”
“The Heart and Stroke Foundation commends the Government of Ontario’s commitment to reducing obesity and smoking rates in the province. 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 legislative package will go a long way towards helping Ontarians live healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke.”
“Given the current status of e-cigarettes and the absence of safety data on non-combustibles, we welcome this decision to align restrictions with those on cigarettes, including prohibiting sales to minors. These new regulations will help to ensure that the gains made under the Smoke Free Ontario strategy are maintained.”
Dr. Peter Selby
“Every day, I see people in my office who are seriously ill or who are dying because of smoking. Flavoured tobacco products are aimed squarely at children and teenagers. Ontario’s Doctors welcome this legislation that works to protect our children from flavoured tobacco products and reduce the number of youth who start smoking.”
Dr. Scott Wooder
“Toronto Public Health commends the provincial government on introducing this important legislation designed to improve the health of all Ontarians. We encourage all members of the legislature to support the bill introduced today and throughout the legislative process.”
Dr. David McKeown