Smoking Stats Generate Fireworks!

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THUNDER BAY – QUEEN’S PARK – France Gélinas Nickel Belt MPP and NDP Health Promotion Critic grilled the Minister of Health Promotion on her inaction on tobacco issues.

“In Ontario, there are more smokers today than there were 40 years ago. The cost to the health care system is $1.6 billion, the economic cost is $6.1 billion and there are 13,000 deaths annually,” said Gélinas.

Gélinas is referring to the report on smoking in Ontario released by the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) yesterday, Gélinas wanted to know if Minister Best would commit to implementing their recommendations.

“The Ministry of Health Promotion has been failing in its anti-smoking policies,” Gélinas said.  “It cut $17 million from it’s smoke free Ontario budget directed towards youth, and despite the Legislature passing a bill that was signed into law over 16 months ago banning individually sold Candy Flavoured Cigarillos, those cigarillos are still for sale because the Minister of Health Promotion has failed to enact the legislation.”

“One of the key recommendations from the OMA is related to the issue of contraband tobacco,” she said.  “There are serious solutions that have been put forward, but the government keeps avoiding the issue of contraband tobacco.”

“How much longer is this government prepared to stand by as lives are taken away and health care dollars are scarified to an insufficient tobacco control strategy and a lack of action on contraband?” asked Gélinas.

Gélinas commented, “The Minister of Health Promotion refused to answer the question and instead asked the Minister of Revenue to respond”.

This issue was raised by the Ontario Medical Association on Monday.

In Thunder Bay, Janine Black with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit shares, “In reading the article at www.netnewsledger.com, I see that the article refers to a greater number of people smoking”.

“To determine smoking rates, we look at the number of people smoking relative to the population.  Fortunately and due to a combination of efforts over the years, the smoking rate has significantly decreased since the mid-1960s”, adds Black.

“I refer you to Health Canada’s website –  www.hc-sc.gc.ca – for a number of reports regarding tobacco use in Canada.  A 2009 report from the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoriting Service (CTUMS) notes the following key result:  Over the last decade, while the number of Canadians aged 15 years and older has risen by 12% (about 24.3 million in 1999 to 27.3 million in 2008), the number of current smokers has fallen by 20% (about 6.1 million in 1999 to 4.9 million in 2008)”.

Black states, “Locally, we have also seen a decrease in both youth and adult smoking rates, as noted below:

Youth daily smoking rates 1997 – 22.1%; 2001 – 21.5%; 2005 – 12%; 2009 – 11.3%

Adult daily smoking rates: 2000 – 28%; 2005- 26%; 2008 -21%.

Here is a graph of smoking numbers supplied by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit:

Smoking Chart from TBDHU

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