May 29th, 2023

NDP calls for stronger public health measures on tobacco use in Ontario

QUEEN'S PARK - France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) Ontario NDP Health Critic and MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre) Attorney General Critic addressed the urgent need for public health measures to combat the devastating effects of tobacco use in Ontario during Question Period today. In addition, the two released a joint statement demanding strong public health measures to hold Big Tobacco accountable in the ongoing historic lawsuit settlement negotiations:

"Alarming statistics show that tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario, with staggering costs to our healthcare system. However, Ford’s Conservative government continuously fails to implement stronger public health measures to combat this epidemic, ensuring the protection of our youth and the well-being of all Ontarians.

The overwhelming evidence leaves no room for interpretation or dispute. We can and must do more. Tobacco is responsible for over 16,000 deaths annually, burdening the healthcare system with a staggering $2.2 billion cost in 2020. It is time for Big Tobacco to pay for the harms of this epidemic.

We are in a healthcare crisis, and provinces have filed healthcare cost recovery lawsuits against the three major tobacco companies. There is $500 billion of lawsuit claims at stake in Canada. However, for some reason, the Ford government refuses to acknowledge major healthcare organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke, and the Canadian Lung Association, by refusing to consult them. Lives are at stake, and we need to listen to the recommendations made by our healthcare organizations to end this epidemic. Reducing tobacco use and improving public health should be the only focus.

We join the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke, and the Canadian Lung Association in asking Premier Ford to follow through and ensure that reducing tobacco use and improving public health is a focus in the negotiations. We must protect future generations from the harms, deaths, and diseases caused by Big Tobacco."