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Tobacco Remains a Major Health Concern in New Brunswick

Jan 18, 2015

National Non-Smoking Week (January 18-24, 2015) provides an opportunity to renew our collective efforts to reduce tobacco use and make our province a healthier place to live, work and play. It’s also an opportunity to highlight the fact that tobacco remains a major health concern in our province.

 

OP-ED: NATIONAL NON-SMOKING WEEK (JANUARY 18-24, 2015)

Tobacco Remains a Major Health Concern in New Brunswick

By the New Brunswick Anti-Tobacco Coalition

National Non-Smoking Week (January 18-24, 2015) provides an opportunity to renew our collective efforts to reduce tobacco use and make our province a healthier place to live, work and play. It’s also an opportunity to highlight the fact that tobacco remains a major health concern in our province.

Tobacco use is one of the leading risk factors for chronic disease, responsible for more than 37,000 premature deaths in Canada each year. It causes 85% of all lung cancer diagnoses and 30% of all cancers combined. Our province’s smoking rates remain high: with an average of 15.2 cigarettes consumed per day, New Brunswick has some of the highest smoking rates in the country. Last year alone, an estimated 330 men and 270 women in New Brunswick died of lung cancer (Canadian Cancer Society Statistics, 2014).

Our youth and young adults are particularly vulnerable to tobacco use. According to the most recent Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey data (2012-13), 26.4% of New Brunswickers aged 20-24 are current smokers and 24% of non-smoking youth demonstrated susceptibility to future smoking (New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey 2012-2013).

While some progress has been made in decreasing smoking rates in New Brunswick, we still have a long way to go before we are a smoke-free province. New and innovative products are being introduced to the market all the time, making tobacco more desirable to certain populations. One of the most alarming trends has been the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes and flavoured tobacco, particularly among youth. E-cigarettes imitate regular tobacco cigarettes by giving off smoke-like vapour. There are nicotine and non-nicotine varieties available in a wide array of flavours, such as cherry, bubble gum and grape. Those with nicotine are not legal in Canada. However e-cigarettes, both with and without nicotine, can be purchased online or in an increasing number of e-cigarette shops that have opened around the province.

At this point in time, Health Canada and the World Health Organization do not recommend the use of e-cigarettes because of the potential health risks and the lack of testing. There is a need for more scientific evidence to determine if e-cigarettes should be used as a cessation tool. There are many proven cessation aids available on the market and we encourage you to call Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 if you are interested in quitting.

Flavoured tobacco comes in many forms, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco and waterpipe tobacco (sisha). Candy and fruit flavours mask the flavour of tobacco, making it more palatable, particularly for youth. Once someone starts using one tobacco product, they are more likely to experiment with others and this can lead to a lifetime of tobacco addiction.

The New Brunswick Anti-Tobacco Coalition is seeing a growing trend towards increased smoke-free outdoor spaces, and we believe the majority of New Brunswickers are interested in promoting and living tobacco-free lifestyles. We continue to work with stakeholders to change attitudes and behaviours towards tobacco, build support for anti-tobacco initiatives and reduce smoking rates in the province. This National Non-Smoking Week, we encourage you to get informed and encourage tobacco-free lifestyles in your family and your community.