Government urged to adopt fight
against teenage smoking
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 1998
OTTAWA: Senator Colin Kenny, author of Bill S-13, the Tobacco Industry Responsibility Act, today urged the government to adopt the fight against teenage smoking. His statement followed the Commons Speaker’s ruling that Bill S-13 was inadmissible.
Senator Kenny called the Speaker’s ruling disappointing, but proposed that the Government have a Minister introduce a bill identical to S-13 but with a ways and means motion attached. "The public doesn’t care about procedure or whether a bill imposes a tax or a levy, they just want to see action on youth smoking," said Senator Kenny.
Bill S-l3 would have imposed a 50 cent levy on every carton of cigarettes. The money would have funded a $l20 million annual campaign against youth smoking. However, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled today that the bill could not be adopted as law. Speaker Gilbert Parent ruled that the bill actually imposes a tax, not a levy for industry purposes. Tax bills must be introduced in the House of Commons and not in the Senate where Bill S-13 was introduced by the Senator.
"The levy would ensure stable funding and mean that tax dollars would not be used to fund the anti-smoking programs," said Senator Kenny. "It would enable well-equipped health groups to spend the funds for the purpose intended -- to deliver anti-smoking messages to youth. "It is regrettable that for every dollar the government takes in tobacco taxes, only one cent is spent on education and enforcement. This levy would help right the balance," said the Senator.
The Senator also called attention to the example of California where l2% of youth smoke and $4.00 per capita is spent on youth education programs and compared it to Canada, where only about 33 cents per capita is spent and the youth smoking rate is 30%.
Senator Kenny pointed to the overwhelming support for the levy and the campaign against teenage smoking. More than 545 organizations across Canada support the bill as does 76% of Canadians (and 83% of l8 to 29 year olds who are closest in age to the teen target group) according to a Canadian Cancer Society poll taken in October.
The Senator added that tobacco price increases in the United States pave the way for the introduction of the 50 cent levy in Canada. To compensate for recent tobacco settlements in the US, American tobacco manufacturers have increased the price of cigarettes twice -- most recently November 23 -- for a total increase of U.S.$5.70 to U.S.$6.50 per carton. This works out to $8.70 to $9.90 Canadian per carton, making the smuggling of American cigarettes uneconomical. S-13's 50 cent per carton increase is insignificant in comparison, thus decreasing the worry that S-13 could have lead to smuggling and law enforcement problems.
Senator Kenny thanked other Parliamentarians and especially Dr. Carolyn Bennett, M.P., sponsor of S-13 in the Commons, for her hard work and commitment to the bill. In addition, the Senator thanked the 545 plus organizations which have endorsed the bill and urged them and individual Canadians to keep on writing to their Members of Parliament.