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Helping Ontarians breathe easier: Recommended priority areas and new initiatives for the returning Ontario government

Following the recent provincial election, the Canadian Lung Association is eager to continue working with the Ontario government to support the lung health and well-being of Ontarians. Both tobacco use (including e-cigarettes) and air pollution remain significant public health concerns in the province. We encourage the government to consider additional measures in these priority areas that will build on previous initiatives and further support lung health     .

Tobacco/e-cigarette use

Although the number of smokers in Ontario has declined over the last decades, tobacco use remains the leading cause of disease and death in the province. Each year, tobacco use kills 16,000 Ontarians and costs the province more than $2.25 billion. In addition, e-cigarette use (vaping) amongst youth has the potential to compromise tobacco control efforts and lead to a new generation addicted to nicotine. One-quarter of Ontario students in 2019 reported having used e-cigarettes in the past year. The following recommendations will ensure that we don’t lose momentum when it comes to tobacco control efforts.

  • Ontario is one of ten provinces collectively filing lawsuits with the tobacco industry. We need to ensure that public health measures are a top priority in the settlement negotiations.
  • A tobacco cost-recovery fee would allow us to hold the tobacco industry accountable for at minimum the $43 million spent on the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, through this “polluter pay” model.
  • Further restrictions on vaping products, including a comprehensive ban on all flavoured e-cigarettes, would bolster the steps that Ontario has already taken to protect youth from vaping.

Air pollution

More than 6,000 deaths in Ontario each year are attributed to air pollution. The transportation sector is responsible for around one-quarter of the emissions that contribute to reduced air quality. We must do more to shift our reliance on combustible-engine (gas- and diesel-powered) vehicles.

  • Ontario is behind its provincial counterparts in both the supply of and demand for zero-emission vehicles. A provincial rebate program for used and new zero-emission vehicles would encourage adoption and bring Ontario on par with other provinces.
  • Develop strategies to encourage the electrification of school buses to ensure our children are exposed to cleaner air.
  • Supporting investments that encourage the use of public and active forms of transportation would also help to reduce our reliance on combustible-engine vehicles.