Albertans say ‘yes’ to tax increases on tobacco, alcohol and sugar and sugary beverages if some revenue is applied to wellness initiatives

A recent poll conducted by Leger Research reveals that a strong majority of Albertans support tax increases on tobacco

  • Tue Feb 24th, 2015 5:00pm
  • News

A recent poll conducted by Leger Research reveals that a strong majority of Albertans support tax increases on tobacco, alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages—if a portion of the revenue is applied to wellness initiatives. The online survey of 1,010 Albertans was conducted between February 2 and 5.

Three out of four respondents (74%) support a tobacco tax increase if a portion of the tax revenue is applied to “effective measures to improve the health of Albertans such as a provincial Wellness Foundation”. Three out of five respondent support tax increases on alcohol (63%) and sugar-sweetened beverages (59%) if a portion of the revenue is devoted to effective wellness measures.

“Albertans strongly support tax increases on these products when a portion of the revenue collected is invested in effective measures to improve public health” said Dr. Kim Raine, campaign team member. “The government can achieve a triple-win in Budget 2015 by raising additional tax revenue, by reducing consumption with higher prices, and by investing a portion of the revenue in the health of Albertans.”

Wellness Alberta represents a coalition of over 100 organizations from various sectors that are calling for the creation of a provincial Wellness Foundation to improve the health of Albertans. The coalition is urging the government to double its investment in wellness by creating a new arms-length foundation that will provide sustainable funding for health promotion and disease prevention. The Wellness Foundation could be financed through applied tax increases on tobacco or alcohol or sugary beverages.

“An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure when investing in effective wellness programs” said Judy Williams, campaign team member. “The Alberta government needs to double its investment in chronic disease and injury prevention in order to significantly improve public health. Properly funded, a provincial Wellness Foundation could accelerate initiatives that improve our quality of life and reduce healthcare demands for years to come. This represents a very significant opportunity for creating a culture of wellness in this province.”

Chronic diseases and injuries are responsible for about 90 percent of the total illness burden in Canada. However the Alberta government is only spending one penny of every healthcare dollar on the primary prevention of chronic disease and injury. Investments in primary prevention can produce returns of up to 50 dollars for every dollar invested. Examples of effective approaches include school nutrition, workplace wellness, youth engagement, active living, injury prevention and positive parenting programs.

Last year, the British Columbia government committed $50 million annually to cancer prevention through a dedicated tobacco tax increase.