Alberta Tobacco Reduction Strategy

The Alberta Tobacco Reduction Strategy (ATRS) was initially launched in 2002 with a $12 million annual budget and it was based on a 10-year implementation plan that came to an end in 2012.  The ATRS was renewed in 2012 with a revised 10-year plan and new performance targets but no specified budget.

The strategy has been widely applauded as an ambitious and comprehensive evidence-based plan to reduce tobacco use in Alberta.  However the implementation of this ambitious strategy has been impaired by a lack of funding, reporting, monitoring and evaluation.

At present, Alberta Health Services is spending only $1.00 per capita or $4 million annually on the tobacco reduction strategy.1 Five years after its renewal, the ATRS appears unlikely to meets its 10-year targets.

To meet best practice guidelines the annual tobacco control budget for Alberta should be approximately 48 to 60 million dollars.2

While the funding for tobacco reduction has substantially eroded, tobacco tax revenues have substantially increased from $633 million in 2003 to over $1 billion in 2017/2018.3

An online survey of 1,005 Albertans conducted by Leger Research in January 2017 revealed that 75 percent of respondents wanted the Alberta government to reinvest one-third of tobacco tax revenue in effective strategies to help smokers quit and to keep youth from starting to use tobacco.  The survey also revealed that two-thirds of respondents (68%) support a cigarette tax increase of at least $1.50 per 20 pack.  A tobacco tax increase of this size would generate over $100 million annually.

Diminishing spending on tobacco reduction compared to tobacco tax revenue 4 5

 

The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is making the following recommendations to improve the implementation of the ATRS:

  1. Allocate a portion of new tobacco tax revenue (at least $20 million) to fully implement the ATRS;
  2. Implement a sustainable revenue model requiring major tobacco companies to purchase a manufacturers' license to sell tobacco in Alberta and apply the proceeds toward the ATRS by collecting at least $20 million in license fees annually; and
  3. Fully implement the ATRS with adequate funding allocated to prevention, protection, enforcement, monitoring and evaluation.

Full text backgrounders

Footnotes

  1. Alberta Health Services. Letter from Dr. Verna Yiu to Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta regarding budget of the Alberta Tobacco Reduction Strategy. January 6, 2017.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs—2007. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; October 2007. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/best_practices/
  3. Alberta Finance. 2nd quarter fiscal update 2016-2017.  http://finance.alberta.ca/publications/budget/quarterly/2016/2016-17-2nd-Quarter-Fiscal-Update.pdf
  4. Alberta tobacco tax revenue accessed: http://finance.alberta.ca/publications/annual_repts/govt/index.html
  5. Alberta Health Services. Letter from Dr. Verna Yiu to Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta regarding budget of the Alberta Tobacco Reduction Strategy. January 6, 2017