More Smokers in Ontario Now Than In 1960


butt outTHUNDER BAY – Ontario’s doctors released their latest report on the status of tobacco in the province and most surprisingly, it revealed that there are more smokers today than in the mid-1960s. There are some 2.3 million smokers in Ontario right now compared to 2.1 million people back then.

“It’s unfortunate, but the simple fact is there are still far too many people who smoke and who suffer from preventable tobacco-induced illness and it is having a significant impact on our health care system,” said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, President of the Ontario Medical Association. The OMA report, Tobacco, Illness, and the Physician’s Perspective, reveals some alarming information including:

  • Tobacco use still accounts for 85% of lung cancers, 30% of cancer deaths and 13,000 deaths a year;
  • Tobacco costs Ontario’s health care system $1.6 billion and the  economy $6.1 billion annually;
  • Smokers that want to quit and would like additional help either don’t know where to get it or simply can’t afford it;
  • Many smokers don’t realize that quitting often involves several quit attempts;
  • The availability of cheap, untaxed contraband tobacco products is expanding; and
  • By 2009, at least 1 in 5 cigarettes smoked in Ontario were classified as contraband.

“There have been a number of initiatives implemented aimed at reducing the use of tobacco and in particular the current government has been a leader in efforts to curb exposure to second-hand smoke. But there is more work to be done,” said Dr. Strasberg.

In an effort to relight the fight against tobacco, the OMA is calling for:

  • A comprehensive, province-wide cessation system to be implemented to get people the help and support they need to quit;
  • A drastic reduction in the number of retail tobacco outlets across Canada;
  • A moratorium to be placed on the sale of new tobacco products; and
  • A comprehensive contraband control strategy to be implemented immediately, which would include sanctions against suppliers of raw materials to unlicensed manufacturers.

“Ontario’s doctors know that patients want to lead healthier lives and we will remain vigilant in our commitment to not only help people who want to quit, but to educate others who are thinking about lighting up,” Dr. Strasberg said. “If we are going to get serious about helping people quit then it is imperative that immediate action is taken to curb the availability and accessibility of tobacco.”

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