The FMSQ supports Bill 44
Montreal, September 3, 2015 – Invited to the individual consultations and public audiences of the Committee on Health and Social Services regarding Bill 44, An Act to bolster tobacco control, the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ) is entirely in favour of this piece of legislation which aims at improving the environment for all people, from the youngest on up. Bill 44 is a natural step in the logical evolution and necessary adaptation of the law, and meets the principal expectations of medical specialists.
"With the various additions and safeguards that are proposed today and that meet in large part the demands expressed by various groups, including medical specialists, almost all the aspects not previously covered by the Bill now are. By betting on effective strategies, these measures will in particular reduce the inequalities of health which often start at a very young age. Over close to 20 years, the stakes for public health represented by the fight against tobacco use have transcended partisan politics, and have resulted in all political parties supporting the pieces of legislation aimed at fighting this scourge. We hope for the same unanimous support for this Bill," declared Dr Diane Francœur, President of the FMSQ.
Judging that action is needed on all fronts to avoid the potential limits of the legislation, the FMSQ set out certain recommendations and observations in its white paper. It sincerely hopes that these will allow parliamentarians to improve the Bill so as to encourage its rapid adoption. In particular, the FMSQ proposes that :
- the Bill also target public parks and children's playgrounds, thus sending a clear message regarding exposure to tobacco smoke and smoking behaviour in front of children;
- the Government extend the duration of the ban to all hours, in the buildings and grounds of all schools, including CEGEPs. This same extension to an all-hour ban, and not simply during opening hours, should also apply to home childcare centres in all the rooms frequented by children;
- a complete ban on smoking apply to the personnel and visitors over the entire grounds of health and social services establishments;
- the Government set up a fund, entirely dedicated to the fight against tobacco use, made up of a significant portion of its revenues from taxing tobacco; and, that the sums deposited in this fund be used to adequately finance a policy of prevention and support to stop tobacco use;
- the MSSS issue clear recommendations on the measures to be implemented in school or community environments within its future plan to prevent tobacco use by youngsters in Quebec; and, that the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) work in close cooperation with the Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS), in particular to define the extent and the applicable program, on the understanding that special attention must be paid to schools located in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, areas which are thought to be more conducive to initiating the use of tobacco;
- the Government take advantage of youth centres by giving them the mandate to prevent the use of tobacco and to quit using tobacco; and, that these youth centres be subject to the provisions of the Act;
- the Government of Quebec, the Government of Canada and Health Canada agree to clarify the definition that is presently attached to the electronic cigarette; and, that the Governments agree to tighten the rules regarding the sale and distribution of solutions containing nicotine;
- epidemiological studies be undertaken without delay to measure the impact of the electronic cigarette on the health of consumers.
In addition to these recommendations, the FMSQ is also in favour of adopting rules that aim to make the packaging of these products neutral and standardized as well as rules that aim at standardizing the graphic aspects of the packaging regarding warnings, as these elements are not a part of the current Bill.
Finally, the FMSQ's suggestion to parliamentarians is to reflect on the opportunity of including in the Bill currently in question a provision regarding the implementation and deployment in all healthcare facilities in Quebec of a program to halt tobacco use. It also invites them to look over the current parameters of the program that reimburses anti-smoking products, whose current coverage period of 12 weeks for each twelve months is considered limited.
The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec represents more than 10,000 medical specialists certified in one of the 53 recognized medical specialties.