Madam Speaker, for a generation, Canada led the world in tobacco control. Successive Liberal and Conservative governments worked with not-for-profit organizations like the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, and The Lung Association to drive down youth prevalence rates and see smoking reduced to some of the lowest levels in the world.
Then, for a decade, that leadership was lost and Canada watched as the rest of the world passed us by in tobacco control. We watched as stagnant rates in Canada on smoking continued. This means that about 37,000 die every year in the leading cause of preventable death. To give an idea of scope, that is the equivalent of an entire riding disappearing every three years.
We have an opportunity to re-establish leadership in areas like plain packaging, where we have seen Australia, the United Kingdom, and others take action. We made a commitment to act and we know that will work. It is time for us to lead again.