News Releases

September 29, 2003

450,000 Fewer Children Exposed to Smoke at Home
Doctors pay tribute to progress against tobacco.

Ottawa – Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) today released figures showing that smoking in Canada has fallen at the fastest rate and to the lowest levels in modern history.  The group attributes this decline to policy measures introduced by federal, provincial and municipal governments and the supportive actions of health professionals and charities.

“In recent years, Canadians have been demanding better programs to reduce smoking, and governments have been providing them” explained PSC president, Dr. Atul Kapur.  “These initiatives are paying off:  fewer people are smoking, fewer teenagers are experimenting with cigarettes and fewer children are exposed to second hand smoke in their homes.

Results from Health Canada’s annual smoking survey, the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS), show that since 1999:

  •  700,000 fewer Canadians are smokers (5.5 million continue to smoke)

  • 160,000 more teenagers have never smoked (450,000 continue to smoke)

  • 450,000 more children under 12 are not exposed to second hand smoke in their homes (690,000 continue to be exposed).

“This remarkable progress shows the benefit of public interventions and the value of collaboration between governments and civil society in designing those interventions,” said Dr. Kapur.

In 1999, health departments from all levels of government worked with non-governmental organizations to develop a renewed national strategy on tobacco (called “the New Directions for Tobacco Control in Canada”).  This strategy adopted the comprehensive approach to tobacco recommended by the World Health Organization and other recognized scientific bodies.  A comprehensive tobacco strategy includes multiple public interventions (such as taxes, advertising bans, restrictions on smoking in public places, etc). 

The national strategy for tobacco has been adopted in each jurisdiction in varying ways:  at the federal level it resulted in new health warnings on cigarettes, new mass media campaigns, increased constraints on tobacco promotions, increased funding for tobacco programmes, increased tobacco taxes and other measures.  Provincial governments have launched parallel initiatives, such as the removal of tobacco displays in retail outlets in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  During the same period, many municipalities introduced bans on smoking in bars and restaurants.

“While good progress has been made, there is no reason to be complacent,” cautioned Dr. Kapur.  “These early results confirm that public interventions work, and encourage us to develop even more effective interventions.  With 5.5 million smokers remaining, tobacco use continues to be the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in Canada.”

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada is calling on governments to implement further restraints on tobacco promotions (they remain legal in publications, in bars and through product displays in stores), to use tax measures to reduce the availability of cheap cigarettes, to protect all workers and the public from exposure to second hand smoke and to hold tobacco companies responsible for the harm they have caused.

With four other health agencies, PSC today published an advertisement in the Ottawa “Hill Times” paying tribute to recent gains in tobacco control

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For information:  Cynthia Callard, Executive Director                     613 233 4878

Attach:    Copy of Hill Times advertisement


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