Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise today in support of Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
Over many months, this legislation has been reviewed, amended, and enhanced. Canadians have weighed in on the proposed approach. Our stakeholders have shared their feedback, and both the Senate and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health have conducted detailed reviews.
Today, I am pleased to rise in the House to share the results of all of that excellent work.
I will begin my remarks by reminding the House of why this important legislation is necessary. Next, I will describe how Bill S-5 has been strengthened to better protect youth, particularly since its review by the Standing Committee on Health. Finally, I will talk about what comes next.
Let us begin with why we need the legislation.
Canada has made outstanding progress over the past 30 years in reducing smoking rates. Our success speaks to the effectiveness of a strong regulatory approach. Nevertheless, tobacco-related illness continues to kill 45,000 Canadians every year. That is one person every 12 minutes. These statistics are alarming and unacceptable. That is why our government is working to reduce tobacco use in Canada, from 15% in 2015 to less than 5% by 2035.
As we work toward this goal, we need to recognize that tobacco use in Canada is changing. The tobacco market today is very different from what it was 30 years ago. Vaping products have changed the landscape and are becoming increasingly popular. From a public health perspective, this poses both challenges and opportunities.
Bill S-5 strikes the right balance between protecting Canadians and recognizing the potential benefits of vaping as an alternative to smoking. It also addresses an important need, by establishing a new legislative framework for the regulation of vaping products.
The bill is a key element of the government's new vision for addressing tobacco use, which includes taking action to ban menthol in tobacco products, implementing plain and standardized packaging requirements for tobacco products, and modernizing Canada's approach to driving down tobacco use.
Budget 2018 has made additional investments of $80.5 million to support this strategy. Between these new funds and our existing efforts, the Government of Canada plans to invest close to $300 million over the next five years with the goal of helping Canadians who have an addiction to tobacco, and protecting the health of young people and non-smokers.
We know that money alone is not the answer. We need to ensure that our approach is based on evidence. We need to listen to the experts and learn from what they tell us. That is why, since its introduction, Bill S-5 has been studied so extensively.
From the public consultation process to strong committee review, our government has heard from a wide range of stakeholders on the bill. This includes public health experts, industry representatives, consumer advocates, and academics, and their valuable feedback has informed the amendments to BillS-5.
In particular, I would like to express my very sincere thanks to the Standing Committee on Health and all of its members for its careful review of the bill. Most notably, the committee made amendments to prohibit lifestyle advertising for vaping products. This means that all lifestyle advertising, anything that associates a product with a way of life that includes glamour, recreation, and excitement will be prohibited. This will better protect our youth and non-tobacco users from being enticed into using vaping products, which could lead to the use of tobacco products and to the renormalization of smoking behaviours.
In addition, the bill was amended to provide regulatory authority to require information, such as health warnings, to be displayed on individual tobacco products, including on individual cigarettes. This amendment will align the approach for vaping and tobacco products. It may also be used to improve consumer awareness of the health hazards and health effects associated with the use of these products.
Protecting youth has been a key concern to stakeholders throughout the consultation process. It was a guiding principle as we drafted the legislation. In particular, many stakeholders have told us they worry about how vaping products could affect young people, and we share their concern.
Experts agree that vaping is harmful but less harmful than smoking. Although I have heard from Canadians who tell us that vaping has helped them quit smoking, their role in smoking cessation has yet to be substantiated. Thus we must be cautious. We must ensure that the availability and prevalence of vaping products do not lead young people and non-smokers to start smoking and to develop nicotine addictions.
That is why, upon royal assent, Bill S-5 will make vaping products legally available only to Canadians over the age of 18. This includes prohibiting vending machine sales and putting measures in place that require retailers to ensure that products purchased online are delivered only to adults.
The bill also includes measures that will ensure vaping products are not glamourized to appeal to young people through slick marketing promotion efforts. For example, there has been a great deal of discussion about how certain flavours could potentially make vaping products more appealing to young people.
We recognize that some of those smokers prefer flavoured vaping products, but we must also acknowledge that these flavours can draw youth to vaping, something we wish to avoid. For this reason, Bill S-5 would restrict the marketing and promotion of vaping product flavours that could appeal to youth, such as candy.
We have already taken significant action on this front by expanding the ban on menthol to cover 95% of all tobacco products. Bill S-5 would take further action by banning the use of menthol and clove in all tobacco products. These measures would help protect Canadians, particularly Canadian youth, from serious long-term health effects of nicotine and tobacco use.
Bill S-5 would also advance our goal of implementing plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products. Thanks to increasingly restrictive measures put in place by governments in Canada, the tobacco industry has few options left to advertise and promote its products to recruit new users. Packaging is one of the last remaining channels for the promotion of tobacco products to youth. That is why this is being addressed.
Research has shown that promotion through tobacco packages and products is particularly effective with adolescents and young adults. Colourful packaging that includes logos, textures, and brand images can have an enormous influence on young people at a time in their lives when they are establishing brand loyalty and smoking behaviour. Research has also shown that plain and standardized packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco products, particularly among youth.
This is why countries all around the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and more than 20 others, are either considering or have introduced requirements for plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products. I think we can all agree that tobacco companies should not be able to use packaging to make a harmful product appealing. Bill S-5 would put that principle into action.
As I have outlined today, the bill has been studied extensively. It has been shaped by expert opinion and reviewed by all our colleagues, both in the House and in the other place. As a result, Bill S-5 is before us today as well-researched and balanced legislation, and is part of a comprehensive new vision for addressing tobacco use.
Bill S-5 would meet the needs of a wide range of Canadians by addressing today's tobacco market. It would protect young Canadians from the risks of tobacco, while at the same time allowing adults to legally access vaping products as a less harmful alternative to smoking. It would also support our government's efforts to implement plain and standardized packaging of tobacco products.
If passed, Bill S-5 will position us to protect our youth, reduce tobacco use, and ultimately save lives. With Bill S-5 in place, Canada can once again be a world leader in tobacco control and preserve the health of Canadians for many years to come.