Earlier this year we reported on the results of the Commonwealth Fund Survey of health behaviours in 11 countries with comparable government structures, economies and cultures. According to the results of this survey, which considered all forms of tobacco use (and not just cigarette smoking), Canada did fairly well. We are ranked fourth, behind New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Other global data sets, such as that prepared by the OECD, consider only daily cigarette smoking only. By this other measure, Canada would also rank 4th, but would be behind Norway, Sweden and the United States.)
Comparing smoking rates among countries that share cultural, political and commercial practices can help inform discussions about tobacco regulation. These 11 peer-group nations have all adopted comprehensive measures to reduce tobacco use, and many are planning additional public measures. There are both small and large differences in the approaches each have taken: In the United States, for example, cigarettes are still displayed in corner stores and do not yet have picture-based warnings. In Australia, vaping products and oral tobacco are not legal for commercial sale. In France, cigarettes may only be sold by stores which are part of a state-controlled retail monopoly.
This post looks at tobacco control measures that have recently been proposed in three of these countries, and how they compare with the situation in Canada.
1. New Zealand: an 'Action Plan' to becoming smoke-free by 2025
Ten years ago New Zealand adopted the goal of becoming smoke-free by 2025, which was interpreted as achieving less than 5% prevalence. That deadline is now only a few years way, and the government has been under pressure to up its game to make that goal a reality. Last week the New Zealand associate Health Minister, Dr. Ayesha Verrall, opened consultations on a new Action Plan for tobacco that is designed to meet this goal.
Proposals for a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan
Strengthen the tobacco control system
- Strengthen Māori governance of the tobacco control programme *
- Support community action for a Smokefree 2025
- Increase research, evaluation, monitoring and reporting *
- Strengthen compliance and enforcement activity
- License all retailers of tobacco and vaping products
- Significantly reduce the number of smoked tobacco product retailers based on population size and density
- Restrict sales of smoked tobacco products to a limited number of specific store types
- Introduce a smokefree generation policy
- Reduce nicotine in smoked tobacco products to very low levels
- Prohibit filters in smoked tobacco products
- Prohibit innovations aimed at increasing the appeal and addictiveness of smoked tobacco products
- Set a minimum price for tobacco
- Enhance existing initiatives
- Increase investment in mass and social media campaigns
- Increase investment in stop smoking services for priority populations *