Tobacco restrictions in B.C. should match Alberta's: Canadian Cancer Society



    January 20 to 26 is National Non-Smoking Week

    VANCOUVER, Jan. 16 /CNW/ - The Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon
Division today announced it wants stronger laws to prohibit smoking on
restaurant and bar patios, in addition to legislation that supports a child's
right to health and clean air.
    The Society urges the B.C. government to consider its view that B.C.'s
Tobacco Control Act should be strengthened, particularly in light of Alberta's
tough new regulations.
    "During National Non-Smoking Week, January 20 to 26, we're calling on our
policymakers to work quickly to reassert B.C.'s leadership position in tobacco
control," said Kathryn Seely, a lawyer and the Society's manager of public
issues.
    "We believe we're ready to bring our smoking restrictions in line with
the new provincial laws in Alberta," she said.
    Seely points out that Alberta's provincial laws prohibit smoking on
outdoor patios of bars and restaurants and the sale of cigarettes in
pharmacies, whereas the recent changes to B.C.'s Tobacco Control Act do not.
    "In B.C., smokers can also light up just three metres from an
entranceway, which is not an evidence-based distance and is not enough to help
others avoid exposure to second-hand smoke," Seely said.
    Further fueling the division's calls for reform on the tobacco front are
results from a new nation-wide poll on whether an adult's addiction to
nicotine should take a back seat to a child's health
    A national Environics Research Group poll conducted for the Canadian
Cancer Society found that the majority of Canadians (82 per cent) say they
support a ban on smoking in vehicles with children younger than 18 years of
age.
    The poll results also show that more than two-thirds of smokers (69 per
cent) support a ban.
    "It's clear Canadians are ready for action to protect children from the
harmful effects of second-hand smoke," Seely said.
    The research included a national telephone survey of 2,032 adult
Canadians (18 years of age and over). The findings are considered accurate to
within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The interviews
were conducted between December 12, 2007 and January 3, 2008.
    Seely says the Society is pleased the B.C. government is taking steps to
improve the health of British Columbians and acknowledges the government's
ongoing efforts to reduce tobacco consumption.
    Tobacco remains the largest single preventable cause of death and
disease, killing more than 6,000 British Columbians each year. Cigarette
smoking causes about 30 per cent of cancers in Canada and more than 85 per
cent of lung cancers. In addition, second-hand smoke is linked to the death of
140 British Columbians each year.
    The B.C. government's changes to the Tobacco Control Act include:

    
    -   A ban on smoking in indoor public places and workplaces, including
        near doorways, windows, and air intakes;
    -   Restrictions on places where tobacco can be sold; and,
    -   Restrictions on retail tobacco displays where youth under 19 have
        access.
    

    A recent Statistics Canada survey showed smoking rates among 15 to
19-year-olds declined to 15 per cent last year from 18 per cent in 2005 - a
sign, says Seely, that a key audience for tobacco companies may finally be
turning their back on smoking.
    More good news is that B.C. still boasts amongst the lowest smoking rates
in Canada-16 per cent of the population-although the rate is up from 15 per
cent in 2006.
    "Higher tobacco taxes, larger picture-based package warnings,
restrictions on where people can smoke (including teenagers), better
education, and mass media campaigns have all helped reduce tobacco rates,
especially among youth," she said.
    Despite the good news, Seely warns that the Supreme Court's decision to
uphold current restrictions on tobacco advertising paved the way for revived
tobacco advertising campaigns that could undo years of work to discourage
tobacco use.
    "We're very concerned the return of tobacco advertising will impact youth
exposure to tobacco and youth smoking rates," she said.
    Studies show the vast majority of smokers begin smoking before the age of
19. What's more, those most at-risk to begin smoking are teenagers.
    In June 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upheld a decade-old
federal law which set strict limits on tobacco advertising in the name of
safeguarding public health.
    Tobacco companies hadn't run such ads while the court fight was on. But
with the Supreme Court ruling out of the way, tobacco advertising has resumed
on a national level.
    "The tobacco industry will continue to use aggressive marketing to
undermine efforts to butt out," Seely said. "Public health is at stake and we
need tougher laws in place to ensure young people aren't persuaded to light
up."

    Since 1938, the Canadian Cancer Society has operated as a national
charitable organization that provides valuable cancer information services,
funds research and educates Canadians on cancer risks. In British Columbia and
the Yukon, the Society works with approximately 20,000 volunteers in over
80 communities, has funded $19 million in B.C.-based research over the last
five years including nine new research grants in 2007/08 worth about
$4-million, and recently established the Canadian Cancer Society Chair in the
Primary Prevention of Cancer at UBC. For more information, visit
www.cancer.ca, or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at
1-888-939-3333.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Marcelo Dominguez, Manager,
Media Relations, Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon Division, T: (604)
675-7340, C: (778) 999-2592, E: mdominguez@bc.cancer.ca

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Canadian Cancer Society (BC and Yukon Division)

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