MONTREAL, Jan. 24, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - To mark the end of Quebec Tobacco-Free Week, physicians from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), along with their patients, are calling on the public to support the fight against smoking by participating in a letter campaign to the Minister of Health.
Dr. David Mulder, Senior Thoracic Surgeon at the Montreal General Hospital of the MUHC and former chief physician for the Montreal Canadiens said this: "My colleagues and I are discouraged with having to deliver the devastating news of lung cancer to distraught patients and their families. This diagnosis is fatal in 85% of these patients who, without their addiction to this unnecessary product, could otherwise go on to live a long and healthy life."
The doctors hope to convince the Health Minister to take action to toughen the Tobacco Act this winter by tabling a bill that includes measures that the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control and other health groups have been calling for, including:
|Measures requested by the "Health Before Profits" Campaign|
|1.||Banning all flavours in tobacco products (including menthol);|
|2.||Implementing standardized and plain packaging (standardized format and removal of all promotional elements);|
|3.||Banning slim and ultra-slim cigarettes;|
|4.||Introducing a moratorium on new tobacco products (i.e.: modernization of brand imagery or modification of the product itself);|
|5.||Subjecting electronic cigarettes to the Tobacco Act (prohibiting sales to minors, "lifestyle" advertising and use where smoking is prohibited);|
|6.||Banning smoking in vehicles when children are present;|
|7.||Banning smoking on restaurant and bar patios and terraces.|
For physicians who are confronted daily with the pain and despair of their patients suffering from a disease caused by smoking, the situation is intolerable. "This is why we have decided to leave our clinics, our in-patient units and our operating rooms and venture into the political arena, where decisions regarding our laws will determine the fate of our future generations by changing - or not - the current environment in which 80 young people continue to start smoking every day," said Dr. Dick Menzies, director of the Respiratory Division at the MUHC.
In their own letter to the Minister, the doctors reiterated the demands of the Coalition, which represents hundreds of Quebec organizations, including the anti-tobacco groups like the Quebec Lung Association, the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health, and the Quebec division of the Canadian Cancer Society. The letter calls for measures aimed at preventing the tobacco industry from recruiting young people using underhanded tactics and unethical marketing, such as flavouring tobacco products. In Quebec, 59 per cent of students (Secondary III to V) who have used tobacco in the last month consumed a flavoured product. The groups are also calling for other measures to better protect non-smokers from second-hand tobacco smoke.
"It is easy for all Quebecers to join the campaign for the health of our children and future generations. All of the details and instructions for how to participate are available at LaSanteAvantLeursProfits.com," says Flory Doucas, spokesperson for the Coalition. She explained that the campaign encourages people to send their letter before February 7, a few days before the resumption of the National Assembly. "There are new tobacco victims every day. So we want the Minister to act as soon as the new session starts."
Barbara Kane, a lung cancer survivor and former MUHC patient, started smoking at age 15. She is taking part in the campaign because she is frustrated by the tactics used by the tobacco industry to make smoking initiation more appealing, despite the well-known dangers of this addictive and deadly product. "I do not wish on my worst enemy the pain and physical impairment that I have experienced due to the lung cancer that resulted from my smoking. Yet I am fully aware that by surviving this disease, I'm one of the lucky ones, since as much as half of all smokers die from their addiction. I have met many other former smokers like me throughout my treatment — lingering in waiting rooms, undergoing chemotherapy, sharing a hospital room — who haven't been as fortunate and are now part of those dreadful statistics. It is in honour of their memories that I decided to use my experience to call on the public to help avoid the same fate for others. How is it possible that the government still gives free reign to the tobacco industry to dream up new ways to attract and keep its customers, like adding sugar, mint and other kid-friendly flavours to their deadly tobacco?"
New tobacco legislation cannot come too soon for Micheline Bélanger, a patient of Dr. David Mulder's, who also signed a letter to the Minister and is one of the few survivors of lung cancer caused by smoking, three years after the removal of the superior lobe of her right lung. "The victims of tobacco are rarely heard in debates surrounding the cause of their suffering. They are too busy surviving, or they are dying of a disease directly associated with their smoking - the fate of one out of two smokers. That is why I am so grateful for the McGill University Health Centre doctors, who, in addition to saving my life, decided to get involved in the political struggle against tobacco while giving a voice victims like me. The industry trapped me when I was only 12 years old, with the help of its attractive packaging. This has to stop. "
"There are no more excuses to delay the process to strengthen the Tobacco Act," Doucas adds. "Effective prevention and protection measure that well-known and supported by the public. The opposition has given the green light to Minister Hébert. The measures being put forward cost practically nothing, and will reduce the huge burden that tobacco imposes on our healthcare system." (Smoking is responsible for about a third of the costs associated with full-day hospitalization stays in Quebec.)
"Health Before Profits" is an initiative of Drs. Mulder and Menzies of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in collaboration with the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control.
1 Tables 3 and 4 from Propel Center for Population Health Impact, Usage de produits du tabac aromatisés chez les élèves canadiens : données de l'Enquête sur le tabagisme chez les jeunes 2010-2011, October 7, 2013. http://cqct.qc.ca/Documents_docs/DOCU_2013/TABAC_AROMATISES_ETJ_20131007.pdf
2 Pierre-Yves Crémieux, Lisa Pinheiro, Marissa Ginn, Michel Cloutier, Groupe D'Analyse, « FICHE D'INFORMATION - Utilisation excédentaire des ressources médicales due au tabagisme : Soins hospitaliers », August 10, 2010. http://cqct.qc.ca/Documents_docs/DOCU_2010/DOCU_10_08_10_GroupeDAnalyse_Fiche_Hosp.pdf
SOURCE: La Santé Avant Leurs Profits
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