The public health achievement being highlighted by the Canadian Public Health Association’s 100 year anniversary project for the month of May is: the recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard.
When I was a teenager, I worked in a donut shop1. At the time (the early 1990s), smoking was allowed in restaurants and coffee shops in Ontario (where I grew up) and I remember there was a non-smoking “section,” which consisted of about three stools at a bar and a couple of tables, while the rest of the place was the “smoking” section. There was nothing separating the non-smoking section from the smoking section and it seemed so ridiculous to me that they’d even bother putting the “no smoking” signs on those few tables and the bar – what, like the smoke was going to stop floating through the air at that imaginary boundary? Of course, laws have changed quite a bit since then and not only are you not allowed to smoke in restaurants anymore (at least in Ontario, where I was then, and BC, where I am now), but in Vancouver you also can’t smoke on restaurant patios, within 6 ft of doorways, building air intake and openable windows, and, starting Sept 1, 2010, at any public parks or beaches.
Some random interesting facts about tobacco as a health hazard:
- 1 Canadian dies every 11 minutes from the effects of tobacco. That’s more than 47,000 people every year!
- More than 1000 non-smokers die every year in Canada from the effects of second-hand smoke.
- Nicotine is as physically addictive as heroin or cocaine.
- Good news: The overall rate of current smoking (Canadians aged 15+ years) declined from 25% to 18% between 1999 and 2008.
- Bad news: Every 10 minutes, two Canadian teenagers start smoking.
Want to quit smoking? Here are some resources2 :
- Top 10 reasons to quit smoking (English PDF 100 KB) (Inuktitut PDF 100 KB)
- Planning for My Quit Day Checklist (English PDF 40 KB) (Inuktitut PDF 40 KB)
- I Quit! Contract and I Support You! Contract (English PDF 60 KB) (Inuktitut PDF 60 KB)
- 8 Things to Do When You Quit Smoking (English PDF 170 KB)