When the smoke clears we'll have a healthier BC

    VANCOUVER, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - While BC retains the lowest smoking rate (15%)
and lowest daily smoking rate (10%) in the country (and the lowest ever
recorded by a province), the rate has been relatively stable over the last
five years.
    "Steady is just not good enough, when young people continue to take up a
lethal habit and passive smoke threatens the health of our communities,"
commented Barbara Kaminsky, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Cancer
Society BC & Yukon Division.
    Findings released today by Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS)
highlight a national trend whereby it took three years for smoking across
Canada to fall 1%.
    The BC current smoking total for years 2004 through 2008 has followed a
similar pattern with only a 1% change between successive years.

    BC                                  2008    2007    2006    2005    2004
    Current smoking rate                 15%     14%     16%     15%     15%
    Daily smoking rate                   10%     11%     12%     11%     12%

    "Despite our significant efforts over many years, the availability and
promotion of tobacco products limits progress," she said. "The federal and
provincial governments are not doing enough in the area of taxation,
legislation and cessation program assistance."
    The Society recommends that the sale of tobacco products be prohibited in
all pharmacies; more subsidies be available for nicotine replacement therapies
and counseling among other action.
    The Canadian Cancer Society is calling for a ban on the sale of flavoured
cigarettes and cigarillos to young adults, a sub group that is
disproportionately high.
    Tobacco companies continue to advertise and use point of sale materials
because restrictions are not comprehensive. The availability of cigarettes in
some locations, such as pharmacies and universities, restaurants and bars,
hinders prevention strategies.
    "We appreciate the action that the BC government has taken to date on
limiting exposure to passive smoking but there is much more needed for a
significant change in the numbers of smokers," said Ms Kaminsky.
    To decrease exposure to environmental carcinogens in cigarette smoke, the
Society is supporting the introduction of province-wide legislation to
prohibit smoking on outdoor patios of restaurants and bars.
    Ms Kaminsky added, "While the BC picture is encouraging we cannot forget
the impact in regional areas and on vulnerable population groups, like First
Nation communities. For example, smoking rates amongst indigenous people are
estimated to be much higher than provincial averages."
    Smoking rates in indigenous communities have been estimated at 45% of the
indigenous population.(*)
    Smoking rates in Northern BC have been estimated among the highest in the
province. In 2006 Northern Health reported that over 23% of their population
were smokers.
    In 2008, 2,800 people in BC were diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,400
lost their lives to this aggressive but preventable disease.(xx)
    "Because 30% of all cancers are caused by smoking, the potential impact
on a much larger group of Canadians is far more significant," said Ms

    (*)  Health & Well Being of Aboriginal People in BC 2001
    (xx) Canadian Cancer Statistics 2008

    To see the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS), Overview of
Historical Trends Statistics Canada, 1999-2008, please visit:

For further information:

For further information: Michael Leland, Director of Communications and
Marketing, (604) 675-7360 or (604) 375-4042; Please note that Ms Kaminsky is
available for interview

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Canadian Cancer Society (BC and Yukon Division)

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