May 23, 2006

Anti-Tobacco Strategy Focuses On Youth

New Funding Protects Young People By Discouraging Them From Smoking

NORTH BAY— The McGuinty government is helping youth choose not to smoke by providing $3.8 million in new funding for youth tobacco control, Minister ofHealth Promotion Jim Watson said today at Chippewa Secondary School in North Bay. The government is also extending the $500,000 high school grant program in support of student-led activities across the province.

“We’re committed to protecting the health of our young people,” said Watson, who talked with students about how they organized an anti-smoking event in March and discussed what they learned from the experience . “That’s what this investment is all about. We’re pleased to support grassroots youth programs, because peer-to-peer communications is the best way to discourage kids from smoking.”

The new funding will support youth prevention efforts, including expansion of the successful Youth Action Alliance program to all 36 public health units provincewide. The Youth Advocacy Training Institute will also be expanded to provide additional support.

Chippewa Secondary School was one of 500 Ontario high schools to receive $1,000-grants last year. S tudents took part in a day-long interactive workshop against smoking discussing the effects of smoking and wrote anti-smoking messages on a banner which they displayed at the school. Other high schools participating in the grant program across the province held poster design-contests promoting tobacco-free messages to youth, ran health-risk awareness campaigns during National Non-Smoking Week or advocated cessation.

“We’re on the side of Ontarians who want young people to reach their full potential,” said Monique Smith, MPP for Nipissing and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “That starts with protecting their health and encouraging healthy living.”

This investment in youth programs brings the total new funding for the government’s comprehensive smoke-free strategy to $10 million, and the total annual investment to $60 million, a six-fold increase since the government took office.

It is just the latest example of how the McGuinty government is working to protect the health and well-being of Ontario families. Other highlights of the government’s youth tobacco control priorities for 2006-07 include:

  • Making it more difficult for youth to smoke by tightening up access to cigarettes, requiring retailers to ask for ID if a person appears younger than 25, and limiting – and ultimately banning – display of tobacco products.
  • Working with our health care partners and the community to help smokers quit by investing in programs like the Smokers’ Helpline and the STOP study.

“Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in our province,” said Watson. “We are closing in on our target to reduce tobacco consumption by 20 per cent.”

The Smoke Free Ontario Act comes into force on May 31, 2006 and will eliminate smoking in all enclosed workplaces and enclosed public spaces, and restrict tobacco display and promotion in retail stores.

For further information:

Rui Manuel Estevão
Minister’s Office
416-326-8497

Julie Rosenberg
Ministry of Health Promotion
416-326-4833