Health Minister Congratulating Saskatchewan on Smoke-Free Status

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News Release January 1, 2005

Health Minister Marks New Year's Day by Congratulating Saskatchewan  on Smoke-Free Status

OTTAWA- Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh marked New Year's Day 2005 by congratulating Saskatchewan on its new province-wide smoking ban, which takes effect today. The new law bans smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants, and prohibits the use of designated smoking rooms. This legislation follows on the heels of similar bans in Manitoba and New Brunswick, which took effect in October 2004.

"I'm very encouraged that provinces and municipalities are taking steps to protect Canadians from the dangers of second-hand smoke," said Minister Dosanjh. "I would like to congratulate Saskatchewan. This strong smoking ban sets a positive example for the rest of the country. Early this year Health Canada will launch a new round of anti-tobacco advertising which will target the effects of second hand smoke."

Heather Crowe, a longtime advocate of smoke-free workplaces, also welcomes the new legislation. Heather never smoked a day in her life, but spent her career working in the hospitality sector. She now has lung cancer - a result of her exposure to second-hand smoke. Heather has been a vocal non-smoking activist, attending numerous engagements in municipalities working towards smoke-free by-laws. "I am delighted that smoking will now be banned in all public places in Saskatchewan," said Ms. Crowe.

Every year, more than 45,000 Canadians die from disease or illness caused by using tobacco and at least 1,000 are non-smokers. Cigarette smoke is the number one cause of visible indoor air pollution and second-hand smoke exposes people to cancer-causing pollutants. The financial costs associated with employee smoking are also significant. The most recent conservative estimates from 1995 show annual costs per smoking employee can be up to $2,565 per year due to increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, increased life insurance premiums, and smoking area costs. The most recent figures from 1991 estimate that smoking costs the Canadian health care system approximately $3.5 billion every year.

The primary goal of the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS) is to reduce disease and death among Canadians. It recognizes that the key to success is comprehensive, integrated and sustained action, carried out in collaboration with all partners and directed at Canadians of all ages. Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Health are committed to working together to reduce tobacco consumption in Canada.

Health Canada has resources available to help workplaces go smoke-free, including Smoke-free Public Places: You Can Get There and Towards a Healthier Workplace: A Guidebook on Tobacco Control Policies. Smoke-free Public Places offers hands-on, easy-to-use resources to help municipalities and communities through the various stages of planning, implementing and evaluating non-smoking by-laws and policies in public places in their community. The Guidebook is designed to help employees and employers who are preparing to create or strengthen tobacco control policies in their workplace.

These and other resources on second-hand smoke and help on how to quit smoking can be found at: www.GoSmokefree.ca or by calling 1 800 O-Canada (1 800-622-6232).

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