Message from the Minister of Health on World No Tobacco Day


May 31, 2019 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada

OTTAWA - Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease in Canada. Although much progress has been made over the years to reduce tobacco use, it continues to be one of the most significant threats to our public health. Around the world, tobacco is responsible for 7 million deaths every single year. In Canada, smoking takes 45,000 Canadians away from their loved ones each year and the total costs of tobacco use exceed $16 billion a year.

This year’s World No Tobacco Day campaign, led by the World Health Organization, focuses on tobacco and lung health. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death for both women and men in Canada, killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. The single most important thing that Canadians who smoke can do to reduce their risk of lung cancer is to quit smoking.

I am thrilled that earlier this month, our government completed regulations requiring plain and standardized appearance for tobacco products. All tobacco packages sold in Canada will be required to have the same drab brown colour, without distinctive or attractive visual features. Cigarette dimensions and markings are being standardized and regulations will permit only a slide-and-shell format for cigarette packaging, allowing for a large area for noticeable health warnings. We have created the strongest regulations for plain and standardized appearance in the world because the evidence is overwhelming that plain packaging is an effective way to reduce the appeal of tobacco products, especially among young people. I am proud that Canada is a world leader on this front.

These initiatives are fundamental elements of Canada’s Tobacco Strategy. The recognition of the terrible impact that smoking has on lung and respiratory health is a big part why the Government of Canada is focused on reducing tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035. This goal is backed by a $330 million investment over five years that aims to help Canadians quit smoking and to continue to protect young people and non-smokers from nicotine addiction.

The Government of Canada is committed to working with the provinces and territories to revamp smoking cessation services across the country, to make it easier, faster and more appealing for smokers to access the support and tools they need to quit. In addition, I am proud of the great work that has been done so far with the #BreakItOff public awareness campaign—a collaborative effort between Health Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society that encourages young adults to quit smoking and stay smoke-free.

Quitting can be difficult, but there are many effective therapies available to Canadians. Vaping products deliver nicotine in a much less harmful way than smoking cigarettes. While vaping products are not intended for non-smokers or young people, smokers who switch completely from cigarettes to vaping products significantly reduce their exposure to dozens of powerful toxins and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.

I am grateful for the opportunity that World No Tobacco Day provides us to spark conversations on the dangers of smoking. Today, I encourage you to take the next steps to quit smoking, whether that means making an appointment with a healthcare professional, getting information on how to quit smoking, or calling 1-866-366-3667 toll-free to speak with a quit coach.

Going forward, I ask that you join me in making every day World No Tobacco Day. Get to know the life-saving reasons why quitting smoking is so important. Talk to your family. Support someone in their journey to quit smoking. Together, I know that we can work towards achieving our “5 by 2035” goal and ensure that we as Canadians lead happy, healthy and long lives.

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.


Thierry Bélair
Office of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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