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Smoke-free schools act passes second reading


NOV. 26 – MP Todd Smith’s Smoke-Free Schools Act has passed Second Reading at the Ontario Legislature receiving unanimous support from all parties in the legislature. It will now head to the General Government Committee for the next stage in the process before becoming law.

“For four years, we’ve been talking about this at the Legislature. I’m glad all three parties decided that now was the time to do something about it,” said Smith. “We’re talking about a criminal element in a lot of cases. As long as Ontario has an illegal tobacco problem, the entire continent will have an illegal tobacco problem.”

In his remarks to the house, Smith stressed the health care costs the bill is forcing the province to contend with as well as the long-term effect that illegal tobacco has on youth and adult smoking rates.

“It’s not just a health problem because it’s a health care problem – it’s surgery hours, hospital beds, chemotherapy treatments, pharmacare costs. The tragic part is that it’s preventable,” Smith said. “If we don’t stop it; if we don’t treat it like it’s a law enforcement problem and if we don’t start putting the guys who push the poison out of business, they will put us out of business.”

Smith said it was moving to hear personal stories from other members about how smoking is ending lives way too early.

“We needed a strategy. We need action and it’s my hope that at committee, we’ll strengthen this bill and get it into law.”

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Contraband tobacco target of  proposed Smoke-Free Schools Act

NOV. 18 – Todd Smith wants to to butt out contraband tobacco products with a new bill introduced in the legislature this week.

The Prince Edward Hastings MP introduced the ‘Smoke-Free Schools Act’ to crack down on the importation, manufacture and transportation of contraband tobacco products in Ontario.

“The province and several healthcare groups have identified contraband as a major reason why youth smoking rates remain stubbornly high,” he said. “It’s costing us several billion every year in health care costs and it’s costing the Treasury $1.1 billion every year.”

The Smoke-Free Schools Act – to be debated at second reading on Nov. 26th – increases fines faced by illegal manufacturers and transporters of contraband; gives the Minister of Finance the ability to share proceeds of investigations with police departments who participate in the investigation and introduces a public education requirement around the health dangers of tobacco. The bill is modelled under similar legislation introduced in Quebec by the Charest government.

“When Quebec introduced measures like these, they saw a 60 per cent decrease in youth smoking,” Smith said. “This is more than a law enforcement issue, it’s a public health issue and an education issue and over the last few months, by working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society, we’ve taken steps to address that wide range of concerns.”

Measures introduced in the 2015 budget, he said only addressed 30 per cent of the contraband market identified by the RCMP.

“We’ve got to deal with the other 70 per cent and that means tackling how contraband is being imported and transported to customers. That’s how you crack down on contraband. It’s my hope we have common cause here.”

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