Nurses are urging the Ontario government to implement recommendations set out in a report called Building On Our Gains, Taking Action Now: Ontario’s Tobacco Control Strategy for 2011-2016.
The report was authored by a panel – the Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group (TSAG) – that the government itself appointed just one year ago. TSAG was established to advise the government on a five-year plan to follow its Smoke-Free Ontario (SFO) strategy. RNAO is part of this panel and contributed to the recommendations.
Ontario has made considerable progress in cutting smoking but the job is far from done. Being good does not mean we are the best we can be. And good is not good enough when you consider that use of tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario. Over 13,000 people die every year because of tobacco use. More than two million people in Ontario still smoke and, most worrisome, thousands of youth start smoking every year.
With the escalating costs of tobacco use, both in terms of human health and economics, it is time to act because not acting is costly:
In the report, the Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group calls for a comprehensive tobacco strategy that reduces both demand for tobacco products, including preventing young people from getting addicted , and the supply of legal and unregulated tobacco products. They suggest practical and achievable outcomes to be attained by April 1, 2016 and an overall vision of a tobacco-free Ontario by 2030.
Specific recommendations include:
In short, the report sets out a doable, realistic and inspiring strategy that will build on recent gains in tobacco control and save lives. Why, then, is the government choosing not to act? It comes down to partisan politics. One year to go before the next provincial election, the government is nervous about a political backlash if it is seen to interfere with people’s personal choices. This is where we need your help. Please help send Premier McGuinty and MPPs of all Parties the message that controlling tobacco use is good health policy. Petty politics has no place in a tobacco control strategy.
It’s the responsibility of the Premier and MPPs to lead in healthy public policy, particularly where the human cost is so high. Tell them that means acting on the report – now.
Please tell Premier Dalton McGuinty and all MPPs to set aside partisan differences and take action NOW on tobacco. Building on Our Gains, Taking Action Now: Ontario’s Tobacco Control Strategy for 2011-2016 gives us the practical blueprint. We have the strategy, now we need our political leaders to show the political will to do the right thing.
Lives hang in the balance. Write now. Please don’t delay.