Tobacco use remains a major public health issue still requiring
MONTREAL, Aug. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is
using the release of the annual results from the Canadian Tobacco Use
Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) as an opportunity to underscore the extent to which
tobacco control remains a critical issue for the health of Quebec men and
women of all ages and especially of young adults given that smoking is
directly linked to close to one third of all cancers.
Declining smoking rates
The results for all of 2008 indicate that 18% of Canadians aged 15 or
more are active smokers (about 4.9 million smokers, i.e. about 1.2 million
fewer than then years ago, or 25% of this population); in Quebec, that figure
is 19% (1.2 million smokers, i.e. 500,000 fewer than in 1999, or 30% of this
population - 1.7 million smokers). National smoking rates also declined by 1%
after remaining stable at 19% in the previous three years. Although smoking
rates in Quebec dropped to 20% in 2006, they rose to 22% in 2007, back to the
2004 and 2005 rates.
Smoking among teens aged 15 to 19
The smoking rate among Canadian teens aged 15 to 19 is now 15% (i.e.
about 300,000 teens) for the second year in a row; in Quebec, that figure is
17%, or about 82,000 teens. Although these rates are the lowest recorded rates
since Health Canada's Youth Smoking Survey, to further reduce smoking rates in
teens aged 15 to 17, tobacco control efforts will need to focus more on this
age group, given that the teenage years are when many kids experiment with
tobacco, start smoking and become addicted to nicotine.
Smoking among young adults aged 20 to 24
In 2008, the smoking rate among Canadians aged 20 to 24 was 27% (i.e.
about 600,000 young adults), compared to a rate of 25% for the same period
last year; in Quebec, that figure is 31%, or about 148,500 young adults (26%
of young women and 35,5% of young men). The year before, the rate was 32% (27%
of young women and 37.5% of young men).
Children exposed to second-hand smoke
Unfortunately, Quebec still has the highest rate of children and teens
aged 0 to 17 who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home: 14,5%
compared to 8% in the rest of the country; that figure is only 5% in Ontario
and 4% in British Columbia.
CCS advocating for stricter tobacco control in Quebec
In recent months, many tobacco control measures have been implemented in
Canada and in Quebec, including efforts on the part of the Government of
Quebec to pursue tobacco manufacturers. The CCS supported the unanimous
adoption of Bill 43 in the Quebec National Assembly last June 18th, on the
recovery of healthcare costs, damages and interests related to tobacco. This
will allow, in years to come, huge investments of money in tobacco control and
in financing part of the healthcare costs.
However, the CCS believes that many other measures should be adopted or
reviewed before a true victory can be declared on the war on tobacco:
- The CCS is very concerned about the growing trend of cheap illegal
tobacco. Because of their low price, contraband tobacco products
encourage young people to start smoking and make it harder for smokers
to quit and for ex-smokers to remain smoke-free. It has been shown that
a 10% increase in the price of cigarettes leads to an 8% reduction in
smoking among young smokers. The CCS is therefore asking the federal
government to crack down on contraband cigarettes by:
- Persuading the U.S. government to stop the activities of illegal
cigarette manufacturers on the U.S. side of the Akwesasne reserve;
- Prohibiting the supply of tobacco-related raw materials and equipment
to unlicensed tobacco manufacturers;
- Revoking the licenses of manufacturers that practice illegal
- Implementing an efficient monitoring and tracking system to closely
monitor tobacco distribution;
- Making the minimum bond needed to obtain a federal tobacco product
manufacturing permit $5 million (as opposed to the current $5000
minimum, which is extremely low).
- Before the 2009 summer holidays, federal Health Minister, Leona
Aglukkaq, submitted a bill with the House of Commons and the Senate
aimed at prohibiting the addition of certain flavours and additives to
cigarettes and cigarillos and banning tobacco advertising. The CCS
supports this beneficial health promotion effort and is asking all
federal MPs and senators to support Bill C-32 starting this fall in
order to further reduce tobacco use in Canada. However, Bill C-32 has
its limits. While it proposes to ban all tobacco advertising in
Canadian newspapers and magazines, the CCS believes that the ban should
include the most harmful type of advertising of all: the images and
texts advertised on tobacco product packaging. Therefore, the CCS
advocates for laws that will ban all forms of tobacco advertising.
- Cigarillo smoking has increased by over 500% in recent years. The CCS
applauds the federal government's efforts to prohibit the addition of
certain flavours and additives to cigarillos and cigarettes through
Bill C-32. The results of the CTUMS for 2008 show that 37% of Canadian
teens aged 15 to 19 and 48% of young Canadians (20-24) have tried
cigarillos. However, the CCS believes that it would be beneficial to
extend the flavour ban to oral tobacco products (chewing tobacco,
snuff) and that menthol should be included.
- Finally, like most Canadians, the CCS is in favour of prohibiting
smoking in cars carrying children and will support this measure if
Health and Social Services Minister Dr. Yves Bolduc decides to move
forward with it after submitting his report on the Tobacco Act this
Tobacco and cancer
- Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the world, killing
five million people every year.
- Smoking is directly linked to 85% of all lung cancers and to 30% of all
cancers. Lung cancer is, by far, the leading cause of cancer-related
death in Quebec, accounting for close to one-third of all cancer-
related deaths in Quebec. This year alone, an estimated 7,400 Quebec
men and women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and an estimated 6,500
will die of the disease.
- Although Quebecers only make up 23% of Canada's population, in 2009,
they will account for 31.5% of all cancer-related deaths nationwide.
- Lung cancer rates and lung-cancer-related deaths among Quebec women
continue to rise; in fact, they have tripled since 1975. This year
alone, long cancer will kill twice as many women as breast cancer.
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of
the quality of life of people living with cancer. For the past 20 years, the
CCS has been a leader in the fight against tobacco in Canada and has been
committed to making Canadians aware of the importance of not smoking and
living in a smoke-free environment.
For further information on lung cancer, smoking cessation or CCS
services, call our Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333 or visit
Marc Drolet, Director of Public Affairs of the Canadian Cancer Society's
Quebec Division, and Rob Cunningham, lawyer and Senior Policy Analyst with the
Canadian Cancer Society, are available for interviews.
For further information:
For further information: André Beaulieu, Senior Advisor, Public
Relations, Canadian Cancer Society, Quebec Division, (514) 393-3444,