The
Heather Crowe
Campaign

to protect all workers from second hand smoke

Frequently Asked Questions


Even though Heather never smoked, she said she had a ‘smoker’s tumour.’  What did she mean by that?  Answer

Is Heather the first person in Canada to receive worker’s compensation because of second-hand smoke at work? Answer

How much compensation does Heather receive? Answer

Was the WSIB decision to compensate Heather politically motivated? Answer

Heather has said, “I want to be last person to die from second-hand smoke at work.”  Is her campaign making a difference? Answer


Even though Heather never smoked, she said she had a ‘smoker’s tumour.’  What did she mean by that?

Heather was diagnosed in the summer of 2002 with stage 3B non small cell lung cancer – adenocarcinoma – in the upper lobe of her left lung.  Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of lung cancer in smokers, but all forms of lung cancer are caused by tobacco smoke.  About 85% of lung cancer victims die within five years.  There is no cure for lung cancer and treatment is only rarely effective. 

 These days, few people have any significant exposure to risk factors for lung cancer, other than cigarette smoke.  Other risk factors mainly arise from asbestos, radon and certain hazardous occupations in mining and smeltering.  Certainly, Heather never smoked; she does not live with any smokers, and never had any significant exposure to any other risk factors for lung cancer, except second-hand smoke at work in smokey restaurants and banquet halls.  And she was exposed to a lot of that.  During her 40-year career as a waitress, she often worked 60 hours a week in order to earn enough money to support her family on a waitress’s meagre wages.

 Lung cancer is unfortunately very common among smokers (14,000 deaths a year in Canada), much less common but still all too frequent among second-hand smokers like Heather (350 deaths a year), and almost unknown among people with little or no exposure to cigarette smoke.

 Because lung cancer is so frequent among smokers and so infrequent among non-smokers, all forms of lung cancer are popularly referred to as “smokers’ tumours.”  And that is what Heather calls her tumour – a smoker’s tumour.  Tragically, in Heather’s case, it is a second-hand smoker’s tumour.


 Is Heather the first person in Canada to receive worker’s compensation because of second-hand smoke at work?

 No, there have been others.  However, Heather’s is the first case we know of where full compensation has been awarded due to lung cancer from second-hand smoke. 


How much compensation does Heather receive?

The Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will reimburse Heather’s medical expenses and will make modest payments to compensate her disabilities and impairments.  WSIB also pays a loss of earnings benefit, which is a fraction of her modest waitress’ wages, before tips.  Should Heather live to be 65, this benefit will then expire. 


Was the WSIB decision to compensate Heather politically motivated?

 No.  The WSIB was guided by nothing but the truth – and the truth is that Heather Crowe has lung cancer caused by 40 years of exposure to second-hand smoke at work.  Here is what the Jill Watson, the WSIB adjudicator, said in the written WSIB decision on Heather’s case:

 “In March, 2002, you started experiencing symptoms, which progressively worsened, and you sought medical treatment.  You were subsequently tested for, diagnosed with and treated for lung cancer.

 “Corroboration and compatibility of the history of second hand smoke exposure to the diagnosis of lung cancer was confirmed by you, your employer, your treating physicians, literature provided by your lawyer as well as the City of Ottawa Public Health Department, WSIB Nurse Case Manager, WSIB Occupational Hygienists and WSIB Occupational Medical Consultants.

“Based on the information provided to date and entitlement criteria being met, I have allowed your cancer claim…”


Heather has said, “I want to be last person to die from second-hand smoke at work.”  Is her campaign making a difference?

 Yes.  Every month, the list of Canadian territories, provinces and municipalities that ban smoking in all workplaces grows longer and longer.  Many of these banned smoking after Heather visited them and made a personal appeal for smoke-free workplaces.  Right now, about 16% of Canadians live in jurisdictions where they have full protection from exposure to second-hand smoke in workplaces, including bars and restaurants (http://www.smoke-free.ca/pdf_1/Q&A-smokefreecommunities.pdf)The list grows longer every month.  We all hope that Heather’s dream will come true in just a few more years, and that she will live to see the day when 100% of Canadian workers are protected from exposure to second-hand smoke at work. 


 



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Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
1226A Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada    613 - 233 4878