If you're a smoker and living in Ontario, we have some not so great news for you.
A government-commissioned report published on Thursday is pushing to impose more strict age restrictions on cigarettes and smoking laws across the province. The changes proposed include higher taxes on cigarette companies and increasing the smoking age to 21.
This new anti-tobacco strategy has been proposed to reduce the percentage of Ontarians who smoke from 17% to less than 5% by 2035. One of the ways the report writers want to combat the rate of smoking-related diseases is to nearly double the cost of cigarettes, using the surplus revenue for tobacco control initiatives in Ontario.
According to the report, Ontario has one of the lowest cigarette costs in Canada, at approximately $102.40 for a carton of 200 smokes. The restrictions the report is proposing are meant to deter people from buying cigarettes in large numbers by also eliminating any bulk discounts that retailers offer to consumers.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Modernization report, as it's called, also seeks to raise the legal smoking age to 21. But as some news reports have accurately stated, this last restriction is highly unlikely given that the legal smoking age for legal marijuana is now 19 years.
But for now we'll just have to wait and see. The Smoke-Free report was prepared by an expert committee and provided to Health Minister Eric Hoskins, who has announced that the government is reviewing the report.
"There's a lot of work to do," Hoskins said in response to the issue. "The ministry... is reviewing the recommendations and I think their feasibility is part of that analysis." An answer from the Health Minister is expected to be given within the coming weeks.