Saskatchewan Youth Score Highest on Reported Smoking Rates Nationally
SASKATOON, January 22, 2008--The latest Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) statistics for the first half of 2007 show that Saskatchewan continues to have the highest provincial rate of smoking amongst residents aged 15 and over. The Saskatchewan rate is 25% compared to the national average of 19%.
What concerns the Lung Association even more is that Saskatchewan is the only province in which the overall smoking rate has increased from the 2006 survey. The rate decreased in four provinces and stayed the same in five other provinces.
This trend is very disturbing, said Paul Van Loon, VP of Health Education for the Lung Association. This province urgently needs to take more action to reduce tobacco use, he added.
The Lung Association priorities for action in Saskatchewan are:
1. Make all Saskatchewan workplaces smoke-free;
2. Ban tobacco sales in all pharmacies;
3. Ban all signs advertising the sale of tobacco products at all retail locations;
4. Dedicate 2% of provincial tobacco taxes to tobacco control and prevention activities; and
5. Provide funding to initiate tobacco cessation activities for all smokers accessing health care.
We cannot afford to continue to be complacent about tobacco use in Saskatchewan, said Lung Association CEO Dr. Brian Graham. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of lung disease. Our province needs stronger legislation and programs that reduce public and on-the-job smoking exposure, that restricts tobacco access and that supports smoking cessation, added Dr. Graham.
Tobacco smoking is responsible for 80% of COPD which afflicts over 40,000 people in the province. COPD is already the 4th leading cause of death and is growing. Projections of Canadian death rates show COPD killing more women that breast cancer in 2007. Lung cancer is caused mainly by smoking and is the leading cause of death of all cancers. The impact of second hand smoke is particularly bad for children's lungs, leading to increased asthma and lung infections.
For more information please visit the Lung Association of Saskatchewan website at www.sk.lung.ca.
Paul Van Loon
VP Health Education
Phone: (306) 343-9511 (Saskatoon) or 1-888-566-LUNG (5864)
The Lung Association of Saskatchewan priorities for tobacco control in Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan needs stronger legislation and programs that reduce public and on-the-job smoking exposure, restricts tobacco access and supports smoking cessation.
Although many work-places are already smoke-free, thousands of Saskatchewan residents are forced to breathe toxic tobacco smoke and sacrifice their health in order to maintain their employment.
In order to address this issue, all that is required is for the provincial government to introduce changes within Section 77 of The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996 to make all work-places smoke free.
Action - Immediately implement regulations to make all work-places smoke-free.
For many individuals, a pharmacy represents their most frequent contact with a health setting or a health professional. Yet, Saskatchewan continues to allow the sale of tobacco products in our province's pharmacies.
Tobacco is a deadly addiction, and one that costs too many of our citizens the right to a long and healthy life.
Pharmacies should not sell products that are one of the causes of chronic disease, while at the same time dispensing medications intended to make people healthy.
Action - Ban tobacco sales in all pharmacies.
The federal tobacco control act allows retailers to advertise tobacco products for sale. Provincial measures can “ and should - be taken to make this change in order to reduce exposure of young people to this form of tobacco advertising.
In addition, cigarette packaging is also a form of advertising. Leadership at both the national and provincial level is necessary to ensure that all tobacco products are sold in plain packaging.
Action - Ban all signs advertising the sale of tobacco products at all retail locations
Action - Take leadership in working with provincial and federal counterparts to initiate the plain packaging of all tobacco products.
Saskatchewan presently has the highest smoking rate of any province in Canada. Yet, at the present time less than 0.5% of tobacco tax revenue is used to prevent the problems caused by tobacco. In contrast, other provinces have significant budget allocations for tobacco control. By increasing the amount of tobacco tax revenue to 2%, a great deal more progress could be made in the fight against tobacco.
(Note that 2% of tobacco taxes amounts to about one-half of a cent per cigarette sold)
Action - Dedicate 2% of provincial tobacco taxes to tobacco control and prevention activities beginning in the next budget.
In order to reduce incidence of tobacco-related health issues, more must be done on the ground in health regions to ensure that smokers have access to cessation programs and activities.
It should also be routine for health professionals to compile a tobacco use history of their patients, and to follow-up where necessary, with cessation possibilities/programs.
Action - Provide funding to initiate tobacco cessation activities for all patients entering an acute or long-term medical facility or other medically-related health care facility (such as dental clinics, etc).