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Health

Cigarettes Need to Be Taxed More to Reduce Number of Smokers in Canada, Report Says

The government needs to increase tobacco taxes if they want to significantly reduce the number of smokers in Canada, according to a new Health Canada report.

“Our country has a history of innovation in tobacco control, offering Canadians tools to quit smoking, and more importantly, to avoid starting smoking at all. Together we will work to see fewer Canadians using tobacco in the years to come,” former Minister of Health Jane Philpott said at the National Forum on the Future of Tobacco Control in Canada in March.

It was then Philpott announced that Trudeau's government planned to reduce tobacco use in Canada to less than 5% by 2035. While the country has seen improvements in smoking rates, the current rate sits at about 14.2% of the population, so the reduced number is an aggressive target.

Take Action: Call on Canadian Ministers to Commit to Global Health Security

The Health Canada report was obtained by CBC News and it implies that cigarette taxes need to be increased to 80% of the retail price from the current 68% in order to see meaningful results.

The report explains that tax increases in the past have proved to be the most effective way to reduce the number of smokers in the country.

"Cigarette taxes had the largest effect, followed by health warnings, smoke-free air laws, retail point of sale bans and cessation treatment policies," David Levy, of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., told CBC, pulling info from his research in the SimSmoke Model of Tobacco Control Policies.

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SimSmoke looks at the dynamics of smoking use and smoking-related deaths and the effects that implemented policies have on them. The model has been used to assess tobacco-control strategies in more than 20 countries since its inception in 1998.

Health Canada paid $60,270 for the SimSmoke research, according to CBC.

Levy confirmed that a hike on cigarette taxes will be important in reducing the number of smokers.

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Still, others argue that a drastic increase in taxes could also lead to an increase in criminal activity, including contraband tobacco.

The overall idea, though, is that if the cost of cigarettes goes up, fewer people will smoke.

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