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World No Tobacco Day

Don’t let tobacco take your breath away.

World No Tobacco Day 2019 focussed on tobacco and lung health.

Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) along with global partners hold the annual campaign in an effort to raise awareness of the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, to discourage the use of tobacco.

This year, according to WHO, the campaign specifically draws attention to the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease and the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people.

Every day, Canadians feel the health impacts and are dying because of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. Tobacco use kills 45,000 Canadians each year. That’s one person every 12 minutes. More than 4 million people still use tobacco in Canada – about 15 per cent of the population.

Last year, to mark World No Tobacco Day, the Government of Canada introduced Canada’s Tobacco Strategy, committing $330 million over the next 5 years to: help Canadians who smoke to quit or reduce the harms of their addiction to nicotine and to protect the health of young people and non-smokers from the dangers of tobacco use.

The strategy reaches out to groups of Canadians with higher rates of tobacco use including LGBTQ, young adults and Indigenous Peoples by offering smokers less harmful options that will help reduce health risks and possibly save lives.

And this year, the Canadian government recently introduced new regulations surrounding cigarette packaging.

Canadian cigarette packs will be plain and drab brown in colour, with standardized layouts and lettering under the new legislation which takes effect on Nov. 9.

According to Health Canada, the plain packages will increase the impact of graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking, keeping them from getting lost amid colourful designs and brandings which will prevent cigarette companies from using their packs as advertisements.

Health Canada chose the same dark brown packaging as Australia did for its tobacco products. The colour is dubbed by researchers as being the “ugliest colour in the world”. Several countries in Europe are also using the same colour.

The new rules, also part of the Tobacco Strategy as Canada, aim to drive the rate of tobacco use down to five per cent by 2035.

The Federal government will also be introducing regulations on e-cigarettes.

In Waterloo Region, almost 95 per cent of youth 12 to 18 years and 60 per cent of young adults 19 to 24 years have never smoked a whole cigarette, which is an improvement compared to five years prior according to the Public Health Unit in Waterloo Region. However, most smokers begin to experiment with tobacco between the ages of 10 and 18 years and the median age that Waterloo Region residents first smoked a whole cigarette was 16 years.

Preventing and delaying smoking is a priority of the Health Unit in Waterloo Region as it can reduce short and long-term health effects. The unit continues to promote efforts aimed at deterring youth from smoking.

Cigarette smoke contains 7,000 chemicals which move through the body and causing damage. Smoking is associated with many respiratory diseases including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Smoking also is attributed to an increased risk of head and neck cancers, more than 90 per cent of lung cancer diagnoses and heart disease.

Second-hand smoke causes health problems in infants and children including severe asthma attacks and respiratory and ear infections. In adults, second- hand smoke can cause coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

The World Health Organization, calls on countries to continue to respond to the tobacco epidemic by developing, implementing and enforcing tobacco control policies.

But WHO stresses that it starts in the home and that parents and communities are vital in helping promote good health and protecting one another from the harms caused by tobacco.

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