Canada has made a 'World of Difference' on tobacco but the journey to smoke-free is far from over

    EDMONTON, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - Today more than 650 health professionals and
tobacco control leaders from across the country are in Edmonton for the 5th
National Conference on Tobacco or Health learning what they can do next in
Canada's ongoing battle against tobacco.
    The three-day conference, Smoke-Free: A World of Difference, will provide
an opportunity to explore tobacco-related health issues, share new information
and work towards reducing and eliminating the death and disease caused by
tobacco products.
    "Tobacco control is at a crossroads in Canada," said Dr. Andrew Pipe,
conference chair and physician at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute "We
have a lot to celebrate, but there are still far too many people who will
experience harm and loss due to tobacco products. There is no other health
issue in which we would be satisfied with about four deaths per hour."
    Smoking kills an average of 37,000 Canadians each year. Tobacco-related
diseases cost Canada over $17 billion annually, including $4.4 billion in
direct health-care costs.

    Discussions at the conference will focus on:

    -   Canadians' desire for more smoke-free spaces;
    -   The path towards a smoke-free Canada;
    -   Contraband: The problem and solutions;
    -   Tobacco industry litigation;
    -   New research into smoking and health effects;
    -   Smoking cessation: successes and future plans;
    -   Tobacco industry marketing and advertising to children and youth;
    -   New tobacco industry products and their implications for Canada, and
    -   How Canadian successes can be a model for tobacco control around the

    Currently, tobacco control is well represented in Canada with most
provinces having smoke-free legislation. On June 12, the Honourable Dave
Hancock, Alberta's Minister of Health and Wellness introduced Bill 45, the
Smoke-free Places (Tobacco Reduction) Amendment Act. These amendments to
provincial legislation will ban smoking in all public places in Alberta, as
well as prohibit tobacco product displays in retail outlets and ban tobacco
sales in pharmacies and on post-secondary campuses. The Bill is set for final
reading during the fall session of the legislature which starts on November 5.
    "Alberta is very pleased to host to this most important national
conference," said Dave Hancock, Alberta Minister of Health and Wellness.
"Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and
premature death in our province, with more than 3,400 Albertans dying every
year from tobacco-related causes. This conference offers a valuable
opportunity to share experiences and explore successful strategies developed
across Canada and around the world."
    On August 20, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, announced
that the renewed Federal Tobacco Control Strategy will aim to reduce Canada's
overall smoking prevalence from 19 per cent (2006) to 12 per cent by 2011.
Canada's government will also focus on improving tobacco control regulations
and policy, supporting international efforts for the widespread implementation
of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and
continue to work with other federal departments and agencies to monitor
contraband tobacco activities and enhance compliance.
    "We've come a long way towards improving the health of Canadians, and
we're not willing to lose that progress," said Dr. Charl Els, conference
program chair, and psychiatrist and addiction specialist at the University of
Alberta. "Moving forward, federal Health Minister Tony Clement has set some
ambitious cessation goals. The conference is a great opportunity to bring
health professionals, tobacco control leaders and government officials
together to continue to work together to reach these targets."
    Tobacco use is the largest cause of preventable death and disease.
Smoke-free initiatives protect the public against the harmful effects of
second-hand smoke and make a world of difference in improving health. Actions
must be taken at every level to achieve a smoke-free Canada.

    More information is available on the conference website at

For further information:

For further information: Lenore Bromley, Communications, National
Conference on Tobacco or Health, (416) 471-8475

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National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTH)

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