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  Weekly Feature (February 27, 2005)

Canada's Fight to Stop Smoking
Paul's Weekly Feature


Canada’s National Non-Smoking Week was held from January 16 to 22, 2005.  This special week, loaded with national activities promoting the fight against tobacco use, encouraged Canadians to examine Canada's activities and accomplishments in fighting cigarette smoking.

Some Key facts about smoking and/or tobacco use include:

- Cigarette smoking is responsible in Canada for about 30% of all cancers, and for more than 85 % of lung cancers.

- Tobacco use is blamed for more than 47 500 annual Canadian deaths.

- Tobacco use is the leading cause in Canada, and around the world, of preventable disease, disability, and death.

- Cigarette smoking and smokers' materials are the leading cause of residential fire-related fatalities and loss in Canada each year.

- Globally, 4.9 million people die each year from tobacco-related illness.

Canada views itself proudly as a world leader in successfully attacking cigarette smoking on different fronts.  On the international front, in December 2004, Canada joined 39 nations by formally approving and accepting the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).  The FCTC, based on a Canadian concept, is the first-ever global effort designed to protect societies from the effects of tobacco use and of exposure to second-hand smoke.  Canada already surpasses many of the FCTC’s expectations.

On the national front, to combat cigarette smoking Canada directs efforts in three main areas.  First, Health Canada provides support to First Nations and Inuit communities to set-up programs to promote healthier, smoke-free communities. 

Second, federal legislation has been proposed recently toward reducing the fire risk from cigarettes, thus aiming at the leading cause of residential fire-related death and injuries in Canada.  If this legislation passes in parliament, then Canada would become the first country to have a national standard to reduce the fire risk from cigarettes. 

Third, efforts and progress are being made on regulations requiring health related messages to be displayed on tobacco products and advertisements.

On the provincial, territorial, and city fronts, efforts and resources are allocated to help fight smoking.  Thus far, three provinces have banned smoking in all public places.  It is expected that by the end of 2005, at least 75 municipalities and more of Canada’s provinces and territories will be 100% smoke-free. 

Furthermore, several of Canada’s provinces have taken cigarette companies to court.  The cigarette manufacturers are being challenged to defend tobacco use, and also being pressured to pay the enormous health-care costs associated with the consequences of cigarette smoking and second hand smoke.

As more than 6.6 million Canadians are already former smokers, Canada is clearly making large gains in its exemplary fight against cigarette smoking.  Complemented with ongoing advertising campaigns to quit smoking and the dangers of second-hand smoke, Canada’s fight at different levels on cigarette smoking will undoubtedly help to create a healthier Canadian and global society.

For reference and further detail, check these sites and available links:

Manitoba to back B.C in Tobacco Case

Butting out in Canada

Tobacco Firms to Face Trial in Quebec

Canadian Cancer Society—National Non-Smoking Week

Health Canada—National Non-Smoking Week

Health Canada—Go Smoke Free

Fraser Health—Smoking Cessation

Vancouver Coastal Health—National Non-Smoking Week

B.C. Health Media Site—National Non-Smoking Week


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