Health professionals ratify call for a smoke-free Canada


    EDMONTON, Oct. 4 /CNW/ - The 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health
wrapped up yesterday with more than 650 delegates calling on government for a
smoke-free Canada by December 2008.
    During closing ceremonies, health professionals and tobacco control
leaders were asked to ratify The Edmonton Statement, which recommends that
Canada become the first smoke-free country in North America.
    "We congratulate all provinces and territories that have existing
legislation," said Dr. Charl Els, conference program chair, and psychiatrist
and addiction specialist at the University of Alberta. "However, we urge the
rest of the country to implement comprehensive smoke-free laws as a matter of
urgency to improve the health of all Canadians."
    Dr. Doug Bettcher, director of the World Health Organization's Tobacco
Free Initiative, echoed Dr. Els' statements, pointing out that his
organization supports research showing there is no safe exposure to
second-hand smoke.
    "Everyone in the world has the right to the highest attainable standard
of health," said Bettcher. "The World Health Organization's Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control recommends legislated protection from the
hazards of second-hand smoke. Canada has, and with the continued support of
government will continue to make important contributions to combating the
tobacco epidemic and to saving millions of lives worldwide."
    Under the renewed Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, the government of
Canada has committed to lowering smoking prevalence from 19 to 12 per cent and
daily exposure to second-hand smoke from 28 to 20 per cent by 2011.
    "We have a lot to celebrate, but there are still far too many people who
will experience harm and loss due to tobacco products," said Dr. Andrew Pipe,
conference chair and physician at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
"There is no other health issue in which we would be satisfied with 37,000
deaths a year. To put it in perspective, that is four deaths per hour from
tobacco-related illnesses."
    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.

For further information:

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

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