By MARGARETT R. BEST, Minister of Health Promotion, Ontario
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that a ban on smoking in Toronto’s workplaces and public places was associated with a drop in hospitalizations for respiratory and heart conditions, including heart attacks.
The study is a timely reminder that public policy makes a difference. It adds to growing evidence that laws and initiatives to limit smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke have enormous benefits.
When the Smoke-Free Ontario Act became law in 2006, the McGuinty Government and its partners established province-wide legislation for smoke-free environments. The Act created a uniform standard across Ontario that protects people from second-hand smoke. Since it came into force, the government of Ontario, together with municipalities, have achieved more than 99 per cent compliance for smoke-free bars, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces.
Our government has also banned the display of tobacco products in convenience stores and we have protected children from exposure to second-hand smoke in motor vehicles.
The Smoke Free Ontario strategy is among the toughest and most far-reaching of its kind in North America. When it was introduced, its goal was to reduce tobacco consumption by 20 per cent within two years by combining strong provincial legislation with initiatives to inform Ontarians about the risks of smoking, prevent tobacco use and assist smokers to quit. We have surpassed that goal.
While we have made progress there is still much to be done. Our government continues to work with its partners as we develop a new strategy for a smoke-free Ontario.
April is Cancer Prevention Month. This is a good opportunity to share my commitment to help Ontarians lead healthier lives. If you smoke and would like to stop, or if you want to help someone quit, please visit ontario.ca/smokefree or call our Smoker’s Helpline at 1-877-513-5333. You will find proven tips and tools to help you quit successfully.