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Friday, 13 January 2012 00:00

Majority of Albertans support a cigarette tax increase

A recent online poll of 809 Albertans conducted by Ipsos Reid reveals that 70 percent of respondents support a two dollar per pack tax increase on cigarettes if the proceeds are used to reduce tobacco use and promote healthy living.  The survey was conducted between December 20 and 26, 2011.
The Alberta government is reportedly considering a tobacco tax increase in the next provincial budget which is expected to be introduced in February.

“This survey gives the Alberta government a green light to proceed with a meaningful tobacco tax increase in the 2012 provincial budget” said Dr. Candace Nykiforuk of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention.  “Albertans understand that tobacco tax increases are needed to help reduce tobacco use, especially among youth.  However people prefer to see the proceeds from a tax increase used constructively to support tobacco reduction strategies and other initiatives to promote healthy living”.
Premier Alison Redford committed to increasing tobacco taxes if elected party leader in a survey conducted by the Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta last summer.  In her survey response, the Premier stated “Tobacco tax revenues are a great source of revenue for anti-smoking and harm reduction efforts.  They enable the government to minimize taxpayers' share of the costs and can spur even larger savings by ultimately reducing smoking rates and the associated health-care spending.”
“We agree with the Premier and we hope that she will deliver on her promise to reduce tobacco affordability for Alberta youth” said Dr. Kim Raine, president of the Alberta Public Health Association.  “Alberta’s adolescent smoking rate is disturbingly high and we are not meeting our youth tobacco reduction target.  Tobacco tax increases are the single most effective means of reducing tobacco use, especially among youth.  Alberta has one of the lowest tobacco affordability levels in Canada as the result of low taxes and high wages”.
The targeted youth smoking rate among Albertans aged 12-19 is 10 percent and the actual rate was 14 percent in 2010 according to the Canadian Community Health Survey.  The target is contained in the government`s business plan for Alberta Health and Wellness.
According to global evidence, a 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by 3 to 4 percent among the general population and by 6 to 12 percent among adolescents.
A $2.25 per pack cigarette tax increase in 2002 contributed to a decline in teen smoking from 24% in 2002 to 19% in 2003.  Overall tobacco consumption declined by 24 percent in 2002.
“Albertans have witnessed first-hand the impact of tobacco taxes on youth smoking rates” said Angeline Webb with the Canadian Cancer Society-Alberta/NWT Division.  “We need to drive down youth smoking rates further and tobacco taxes are a reliable and essential tool.  Alberta youth deserve first class protection from tobacco industry products and higher taxes can help to keep thousands of kids tobacco-free for life. ”
According to data supplied by Alberta Health Services, it only takes about 40 minutes of labour for Alberta youth aged 15-24 to purchase 25 cigarettes compared with about 50 minutes of labour in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.  It takes over 60 minutes of labour for youth in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to purchase 25 cigarettes.
Tobacco industry products are the leading cause of disease, disability and premature death—claiming the lives of 3,000 Albertans each year.  Approximately 50,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 are current smokers in Alberta according to the 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey.
Dr. Candace Nykiforuk @ 780-920-2932
Dr. Kim Raine @ 780-492-9415
Survey question
The Alberta Government is considering a tax increase on tobacco products in the New Year.  Evidence shows that tobacco tax increases can help to reduce smoking rates.  Would you support a two-dollar per pack cigarette tax increase if the proceeds are used for strategies to reduce tobacco use and to promote healthy living?
Survey background
For this survey, a sample of 809 Albertans drawn from the Ipsos Canadian panel were interviewed online.  Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.  A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Alberta been polled.  All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
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