Cutting smoking an NDP priority

New Democratic MLAs will champion the creation of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy for New Brunswick, NDP Leader Roger Duguay said Sunday.

"Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in New Brunswick, so reducing smoking is critical to the sustainability of our health care system," Duguay said in a news release.

"New Brunswick is behind most other provinces in terms of taking the steps needed to reduce smoking among children and adults, but NDP MLAs will work to make sure we jump to the head of the pack."

According to health groups like the Canadian Cancer Society, he said, raising cigarette taxes is one of the most effective ways for a province to reduce its smoking rate.

Duguay said New Brunswick has the second lowest cigarette tax rate in Canada — about 10 cents per cigarette lower than the other Maritime provinces.

The NDP tobacco control plan proposes to raise cigarette taxes by 2.5 cents per year over four years, he said, bringing the tax into line with Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island by the fourth year.

Duguay said this would will raise about $55 million in revenue for the province, and eventually reduce tobacco consumption by about 10 per cent.

Other tobacco control strategies the NDP will champion include:

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