With a mandate clearly limited to providing strategic advice through three meeting opportunities each year, the Ministerial Advisory Council on Tobacco Control has given considerable thought to how to organize its time effectively and maximize this unique opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to this important area of public policy.
Looking ahead to some of the challenges that will face tobacco control initiatives across the country and around the world, the Council feels there are three key areas where its input and advice would be particularly useful. Future meetings will be dedicated to exploring these areas:
Key Area Priority #1: Harm-Reduction
As one of the few countries that exercise legislative and regulatory authority over tobacco products, Canada will always be in the position of influencing tobacco industry activities and behaviours on either a proactive or reactive basis.
As social expectations regarding smoking continue to change, our government can be expected to address the many policy and ethical issues that would accompany the introduction and/or regulation of modified tobacco products.
As a Council, we look forward to developing a deeper understanding of this complex issue, and - informed by our diverse expertise and experience - being in the position to offer sound and useful advice to the Minister.
Key Area Priority #2: Aboriginal People and Disadvantaged Populations
Developing strategies that are effective in reducing tobacco usage among aboriginal people or other disadvantaged populations is complicated by several issues. Tobacco usage may be accompanied by other addictions or debilitating conditions. Poverty and other social determinants of health may contribute to lifestyle decisions and choices.
Among Aboriginal people, tobacco also has a sacred usage that needs to be recognized and incorporated into tobacco prevention and reduction efforts.
As a Council, we feel we are well positioned to help foster the discussions, networks, and the activities that could advance progress in this important area.
Key Area Priority #3: Long-Term Direction for Health Canada's Tobacco Control Programme
Building on the work started this year, the Council looks forward to continuing its discussions with Health Canada regarding the future direction of the Tobacco Control efforts. The Council reflected on possible scenarios around marketing to youth and retail promotion and will pursue that work in the coming year.