May 3, 2012
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health
House of Commons
I am writing to express my concerns over the recent cuts to the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS). The FTCS is the largest anti-tobacco program run by Health Canada. By reducing the FTCS budget by $15 million annually, your government is cutting more than a third of the strategy’s annual funding, putting the health and well being of Canadians at risk.
Since its inception in 2001, the FTCS has helped curb smoking across the country. Between 1999 and 2010, FTCS initiatives helped reduce adult smoking rates from 25 per cent to 17 per cent. In this same period of time, smoking rates amongst Canada’s youth aged 15 to 19 decreased from 28 per cent to 12 per cent. The federal government has the obligation to help reduce the number of Canadians who use tobacco products. As over 5 million Canadians still smoke, and over 50 per cent of long-term regular smokers die of smoking related diseases, it is reckless to cut FTCS funding.
Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada. Whereas your government is attempting to cut costs by reducing the FTCS budget by $15 million, direct health care costs from tobacco are more than $4.4 billion per year. This strategy saves the government money, saves the lives of Canadians, and institutes safeguards that promote the health and well-being of young Canadians.
Canada has always been a world leader in tobacco control. The funding cuts to the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy will ultimately deter the progress this program has achieved, placing Canadians at risk of developing detrimental diseases such as cancer. I urge you to reinstate full funding to Health Canada’s Federal Tobacco Control Strategy.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter, and I look forward to your reply.
Libby Davies, MP
NDP Health Critic