Prime Minister Harper – “Smoking is Leading Cause of Premature Death”

Prime Minister Harper
Prime Minister Harper

OTTAWA – LEADERS LEDGER – Smoking is the leading cause of premature death in Canada. Each year, more than 37,000 Canadians die from diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease and several other serious ailments caused by smoking and second-hand smoke. Smoking also adds considerable strain to families dealing with resulting health problems, our communities and our health care system.

Our Government is committed to helping Canadians become and stay smoke-free. That is why, working with provinces, territories, municipalities, stakeholders and other partners across the country, we have taken significant actions to educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking, help smokers quit, and discourage Canadians, especially young people, from starting to smoke.

Some of these initiatives include: launching the ‘Break It Off’ tobacco cessation marketing campaign to help smokers aged 20 to 24 quit smoking; prohibiting tobacco advertising in daily newspapers and free entertainment weeklies; restricting access to tobacco products, especially for youth; and combating the trafficking and cross-border smuggling of contraband tobacco.

We have also raised awareness of the health risks associated with smoking, restricted the areas where people can smoke, and introduced new warning labels on cigarette and little cigar packages, which feature a national “quitline” phone number and web address for those who want to quit.

These actions are getting results. Smoking rates among Canadians 15- years and older have dropped to 16 per cent in 2012 from 25 per cent in 1999. Despite these encouraging results, there are still too many smokers in Canada. That is why, during this year’s National Non-Smoking Week, we are renewing our commitment to propose amendments to the Tobacco Act to restrict further the use of additives, including flavouring additives, that are used to market cigars that appeal to youth. “Due to a lack of evidence on the benefits or harms of e-cigarettes, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health has also sought the advice of a variety of health stakeholders and studied the potential risks and benefits of e-cigarettes. Our Government will continue to work with all of our partners across the country to help Canadians become and live smoke free.

During this year’s National Non-Smoking Week, I encourage all smokers to make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking for their own health and the health of their families, and enjoy a healthier and happier 2015.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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