Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sensible tax policy from Ontario

I like this announcement from health promotion minister Jim Watson. It just makes sense. The costs of smoking-related illness are a huge drain on the health care system, so why not make it cheaper and easier for people to quit? Any foregone tax revenue from the nicotine patch will be made back many times over in reduced health care costs down the line. Hopefully Ottawa will follow suit.

Smokers trying to quit are getting a break as the provincial government scraps its 8 per cent sales tax on over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy and challenges Ottawa to remove the GST.

The Ontario measures take effect Aug. 13 and will save consumers about $5 million a year on nicotine patches, inhalers, gum, lozenges, sprays and tablets, Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson said.

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6 comments:

s.b. said...

Smokers should have to pay higher health care premiums and be denied certain health services that are unlikely to be successful in smokers, and be put at the end of waiting lists until they quit.

This happens in other jurisdictions. It will have to happen here eventually.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! I ain't a smoker an' I ain't any friend of the tobacco industry. Tobacco farmers don't like me much, neither.

That said, s.b., tobacco smokers already do pay a fairly large contribution into the public purse. Taxes collected on smokes don't cover the costs of treatment fer smokin'-related illnesses but they do pay about half. Higher taxes on smokes would amount to higher "premiums" in a system where most Canajuns don't actually pay any specific healthcare premium.

Already, smokers do go to the back of the line for some procedures such as bypass operations. Surgeons don't want to operate unless they got a high chance of success. Otherwise healthy non-smokin' bypass candidates will often get priority over an overweight, unfit smoker.

People who drive recklessly often have "accidents" and need medical care. Do we make speeders go to the end of the ER waiting list? Attempted suicides would presumably not really deserve any treatment.

I think we oughta be able to convince almost everybuddy that smokin' ain't a good thing to do to yerself without denyin' healthcare to the sufferin' fools who smoked themselves into an early grave.

JB

Kingston said...

What jurisdictions are they SB, Not arguing with you just curious. Sarcasm on Actually these aids should be totally free, just like health care, education, university, childcare, etc. come on tax freedom day is still in June, we can push it back a few more months to October. Sarcasm off

Justin Tetreault said...

Small point, but Jim Watson is the Minister of Health Promotion. George Smitherman is the Minister of Health.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Opps, right you are Justin, thanks. I think Jim should get a promotion though, I liked him as Mayor of Ottawa. And as my city councilor, back in the day.

Miles Lunn said...

I support this idea. Sometimes carrots work better than sticks, which is essentially what this is. I also do support smokers paying higher premiums. While I understand the difficulty with quitting and 20 years ago one could have made the argument that many smokers started when they didn't know smoking was bad and now can quit, this is no longer the case. We've known its bad for your health for over 40 years so if you were stupid enough as a teenager to take it up you should have to pay more.

Although I don't think you should be denied health services, just pay higher health premiums and taxes on tobacco.