Healthy Living in the North

Tobacco-free games

Sign that reads: "Smoke free outdoor space" posted at an 2015 Games Official Venue

Through a partnership with the City of Prince George, the 2015 Canada Winter Games, and Northern Health, the Games have been proclaimed to be tobacco-free! Look for these signs at 2015 Official Games Venues and look for smoke-free bylaw work to continue in your municipality as a legacy of the Canada Winter Games!

If you’ve been cheering on Team B.C. (or another province – but I’m biased!) in-person at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, you may have noticed something as you approached venues across the region: signs welcoming you to a smoke-free space! In January, the Games were declared to be smoke-free and now, signs informing visitors of this smoke-free policy are up across the region.

When Games volunteers picked up their information packages, they received a great overview of the policy and why it was implemented. If you want to promote tobacco-free sports in your community, this information provides a great template to use! Here’s the full information card that volunteers received from Northern Health and the 2015 Canada Winter Games:

The 2015 Canada Winter Games and Northern Health Authority are proud to support a tobacco-free 2015 Canada Winter Games.

The Tobacco-Free 2015 Games policy has been created to protect everyone who is attending the 2015 Canada Winter Games from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke at 2015 Games Official Venues.

The use of tobacco – including smoking – is prohibited at all indoor and outdoor 2015 Games Official Venues and in all public places within three metres of entry-ways.

Please note: The policy applies to any smoke-producing or vapour-producing activities. This means that no smoking of any kind is permitted, including the burning or vaporizing of tobacco or other substances. The policy also applies to vapour-producing devices such as e-cigarettes, vapes or vaporizers.

The handout that was created for volunteers also including an FAQ. The questions are helpful for anyone attending the Canada Winter Games as well as anyone looking to champion smoke-free bylaws or proclamations where they live!

Where can people smoke?

People who wish to smoke must leave 2015 Games Official Venues and grounds to do so. Beyond these Official Venues, provincial standards of no smoking within three metres of any entry or exit apply.

E-cigarettes don’t produce real smoke. Why are they included?

While e-cigarettes do not produce smoke, they do produce a vapour that is inhaled by people using them and by those around them. The vapour contains a variety of chemical components depending on the particular products being used. The safety and long-term effects of inhaling e-cigarette vapour has not been established.

Why are there no designated smoking areas at the 2015 Games?

The 2015 Canada Winter Games supports young athletes, good health and healthy practices. Smoking is one of the most health-damaging things a person can do. Supporting smoking in any way, including providing designated smoking areas, is inconsistent with the spirit of the Canada Games and the commitment to healthy practices.

I am working at the 2015 Games. What do I do if I see someone smoking at the venues?

Calmly and politely approach them and say: “I’m sorry, but smoking is not permitted at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.”

Are you concerned about your health because you use tobacco?

Access information and free nicotine patches or nicotine gum by visiting or call HealthLinkBC 8-1-1.

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog.


Make it a tobacco-free season!

Picture of a hockey rink. Bleachers and skating aids on the right side.

Is your local arena tobacco-free? Whether you are a parent, player, coach, spectator, or volunteer, you can help to keep tobacco out of sports!

January 18th to 24th is National Non-Smoking Week and if you use tobacco, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. But wouldn’t it be great if nobody, especially kids, ever started smoking or using any kind of tobacco? While there’s plenty of information available about the harmful effects of tobacco use, there are also influences in society that send the opposite message. It’s no secret that some sports have been associated with tobacco use.

As part of its health promotions, Northern Health is working with sports organizations across the north to promote tobacco-free sports.

Tobacco-free sport represents the idea that everyone taking part in sports and recreational activities does not use any kind of tobacco product during the activity. Tobacco-free sport involves developing, implementing and enforcing policies within sports and recreation organizations that address all types of tobacco use. It sends the message that sports and tobacco don’t belong on the same playing field.

Everyone can be part of the big picture by encouraging their local sports and recreation organizations to develop, promote and enforce tobacco-free sports policies. However, if you’re more involved in a sports organization, there are a few other things you can do as well:

  1. If you’re a parent whose child is active in sports, talk to your children about tobacco. Be involved in the game and help out. Make sure you know what’s going on with your children.
  2. Coaches have a big influence on the players they work with. If you’re a coach, use your influence to support tobacco-free sports.
  3. If you’re a player, don’t use any form of tobacco. Whether you play for fun or in a highly competitive elite league, somebody is probably looking up to you. Set an example for them.

In addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle, tobacco-free sports can also:

  • Protect everyone at the game from second- and third-hand smoke.
  • Help keep our recreation venues and environment free from toxic cigarette butt litter.
  • Prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products.
  • Give everyone a chance to perform at their best.
  • Help tobacco users quit by offering sports environments free of triggers that might lead to cravings for a cigarette.

Tobacco-free policies are a great way to send the message that sport and tobacco don’t mix, but they also need to be promoted and adhered to by everybody to be effective. That means nobody uses tobacco while playing, coaching, or watching.

Let’s work together to make National Non-Smoking Week last the entire season!

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.


Talk to your kids

Children in hockey gear watching a hockey game from the bench.

Children and youth face pressure from multiple fronts to try tobacco products. Movies, music, television, and even sports can glamorize tobacco. Talk to your kids about tobacco and be a tobacco-free role model!

This blog post was co-written by Nancy Viney and Reg Wulff. Reg’s bio is below and you can read more about Nancy on our Contributors page.


Whether you use tobacco or not, you probably don’t want your kids to start smoking or chewing tobacco. Let your kids know how you feel about tobacco and make an emotional appeal to help them avoid becoming addicted.

It’s a fact that if a young person can make it to their 19th birthday without becoming a tobacco user, then chances are they will never become one. Parents need to talk to their children about tobacco use, though, as youth can face pressure to use tobacco from a variety of sources.

We all know that peer pressure is a significant source, but what about other sources?

Movies, television and music have long had a powerful influence on youth. The tobacco industry uses that influence to exploit youth and recruit new tobacco users. Smoking in movies and on-screen is portrayed as glamorous, powerful, rebellious, and sexy while the health consequences are ignored. Listen to music on the radio and you may be surprised at how often smoking or cigarettes are referenced.

In May 2014, the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit released a report that examined the exposure to on-screen tobacco use among Ontario youth. During a 7-year period, approximately 13,250 youth aged 12 to 17 began smoking each year as a result of watching smoking in movies. Of these smokers, it’s projected that more than 4,200 will die prematurely as a result of smoking.

Kids can also face pressures while participating in sports. While Major League Baseball has long been associated with chewing tobacco, other sports like hockey and football have similar issues. The Sport Medicine and Science Council of Manitoba surveyed 2,000 athletes aged 12 to 21 regarding substance use and found that 52 per cent of male hockey players used chewing tobacco or snus. By age twenty, 75 per cent of Manitoba hockey players who took part in the survey reported they had tried “chew.”

Parents, coaches and other role models can counter these influences. Don’t assume that kids have the skills to resist peer pressure or media influences. You can help kids develop refusal skills to avoid tobacco and the addiction that can develop after one or two cigarettes. Coaches and athletes can set the example and not use tobacco products around kids. Sports and recreational organizations can develop, implement and enforce tobacco-free sports policies.

January 18-24 is National Non-Smoking Week. Let’s work together to influence youth to live a healthy, tobacco-free life.


Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.