Public Health Achievement #5: Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard

The May great public health achievement badge 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)
  1. zomg, I can’t believe there’s a Wikipedia page on that donut shop chain!  Even if it is just a Wikipedia stub with no references!! []
  2. taken directly from the CPHA 100 website []

Comments |2|

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  • When I first started working as a musician in the early ’90s, all bars and pubs were still smoking establishments, and after the gig I’d have to go back to my hotel room (or home) and have a shower before bed, to get the noxious mix of smoke, beer, and sweat cleaned off. And packing up our gear the next day involved walking into the stale smoky venue in the light of day, which wasn’t too pleasant either.

    By 2001, Vancouver had banned smoking in public establishments, so I was relieved not to be breathing that stuff anymore. But the ban hadn’t extended to the rest of the province yet, and we played one show in Salmon Arm where I walked into the place after we first arrived and nearly choked from the billowing clouds of smoke. I’d forgotten what that was like.

    And sure enough, that night I had to take a long shower to get the gunk off me before going to sleep. And my throat felt raw from breathing it.


  • Brutal. I remember the have-to-shower-after-work to get the smell of stale smoke off of me. Nasty. Of course, I later worked in a brake part factory where we worked with asbestos and the grime I was covered with when I finished work each day there made me long for the days when I “just” smelled of smoke!


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