There are approximately five million smokers in Canada and approximately 37,000 (some statistics put this number higher) Canadians die from tobacco use every year in Canada. These numbers underscore the importance of National Non-Smoking Week, which falls during the third week in January every year. In 2008, the week will be observed from January 20th – 26th, which presents an excellent opportunity for Canadian smokers to finally kick the habit.
National Non-Smoking Week has been observed for more than 20 years in Canada. The week is marked with a wide variety of events and activities, as well as participants across the country. It has become one of the most important events in Canada’s ongoing public education efforts on controlling tobacco use.
There are many goals associated with National Non-Smoking Week which include: educating Canadians about the dangers of smoking; preventing non-smokers from starting to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco; helping smokers quit; promoting the right of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke; denormalizing tobacco products and tobacco use; and assisting in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada.
The Week has become a national endeavour across Canada involving agencies and individuals working at federal, provincial/territorial, regional, and local levels. Each year, thousands of Canadians take part in the activities hosted by local health units, local and provincial/territorial councils on smoking and health, health charities, as well as provincial/territorial and federal ministers of health.
For those who are committed to quitting smoking, there is support. For example, the Canadian Cancer Society wants to help Canadians quit by providing a Smokers’ Helpline service, which is available over the phone (1-877-513-5333) or online (www.smokershelpline.ca). The Canadian Council for Tobacco Control also offers booklets for National Non-Smoking Week (www.nnsw.ca), to assist people who want to quit, as well as those who are trying to help them quit.
Our Government is also doing its part to reduce Canada’s overall smoking prevalence from 19 per cent (2006) to 12 per cent by 2011. This will be done through the renewed Federal Tobacco Control Strategy that was announced by Minister Clement (Minister of Health) last August. Reducing smoking prevalence to 12 per cent is an ambitious goal; however, it is a realistic one. In addition to reducing the overall prevalence rate, the renewed Strategy aims by 2011 to: reduce the prevalence of Canadian youth (15-17) who smoke from 15 per cent to nine per cent; increase the number of adult Canadians who quit smoking by 1.5 million; and reduce the prevalence of Canadians exposed to daily second-hand smoke from 28 per cent to 20 per cent.
Our Government is committed to keeping Canadians healthy and one of the best ways it can do this is by reducing the number of Canadian smokers. National Non-Smoking Week is an excellent way to raise awareness of the health hazards of smoking and to inform those who are committed to quitting, to know where they can turn for the support they need. It’s also not too late to make it part of a New Year’s resolution plan. Quitting is possible!