Message from Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health
National Non-Smoking Week
January 20-26, 2013
This is National Non-Smoking Week, a week where we pay extra attention to educating Canadians about the dangers of smoking, discourage people from starting to smoke, and support those who wish to quit.
I would like to thank the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control (CCTC) for their continued leadership of National Non-Smoking Week. The theme for this year is “Live, work, play… even better smoke-free“.
Canada is a world leader in tobacco control. Smoking is at an all-time low in Canada — dropping to 17%. The rate of Canadians who smoke on a daily basis is even lower at 14%.
Despite this achievement, tobacco use continues to be the most important cause of premature death in Canada. It is a leading cause of preventable lung disease, including lung cancer, and is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It has negative effects on nearly every organ of the body and is responsible for more than 37,000 premature deaths every year in Canada.
To encourage Canadians to quit and stay smoke-free, federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments have taken a number of approaches over the past 10 years, including restricting where people can smoke; restricting access to tobacco products, especially for youth; participating in tobacco cessation programs; and raising awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use and the benefits of quitting.
With second-hand smoke bans in place, Canadians are more protected than ever from exposure to second-hand smoke in public places, with close to 100% of enclosed public space being smoke-free.
Most recently, our Government introduced new warning labels on cigarette packages, which feature a national quitline phone number for people who want help quitting. We have also banned flavoured little cigars, which were clearly targeted towards youth.
Our Government remains concerned about the high smoking rates within Aboriginal communities, some as high as 50%, and is now refocusing its smoking cessation and prevention programming towards populations with the highest smoking rates.
Health Canada will continue its work on tobacco control initiatives that aim to preserve the gains made over the past 10 years and to continue the downward trend in smoking prevalence. That way, no matter where Canadians live, work, or play, it will be better smoke-free.
The Honourable Leona Aqlukkaq
Minister of Health