Healthy Living in the North

World No Tobacco Day – Quit story contest

Pile of cigarettes with red ban  crossing over top

Quitting is hard, what’s your story? Share for a chance to win.

Quitting smoking is hard, what’s your story? Share it for your chance to win a Fitbit!

Today we recognize World No Tobacco Day and we can all consider making some changes in our lives towards better health. Tobacco use touches most of us, even non-smokers, as we see people in our lives light up around us and breathe in second-hand smoke. The sad truth is that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death –more than alcohol, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

In recognition of the challenges in quitting, we’re launching a contest where you can share your quit story and be entered to win a Fitbit wireless activity wristband. This can be your personal story quitting (or trying to quit) smoking, or your experience with someone in your life doing so. Your story may encourage someone to quit!

Share your story for your chance to win!

Need some inspiration? Here’s a short quit story from Anthony of Gitwinksihlkw via QuitNow.ca:

I worked in camps at the time, on one of my times off, I got to thinking, why do I have to go so far just to have a smoke, hiding from my nephews and nieces, telling them what I do are bad for them? I got tired of being a hypocrite, so when I returned to camp before Christmas, I just did not bring any cigarettes with me. 4 weeks in camp was the hardest time in years. But I never looked back, over a year later and I feel great. 15 years I smoked, realized I was quitting for the wrong reasons in the past. I needed to quit for myself and not for others.

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

Share

World No Tobacco Day 2016

Once again, it’s that time of year. The warm days of spring, which signal the start of soccer, baseball, and yard work have arrived. Now before you get lost in thoughts of hammocks and hamburgers, I would like to remind you of an important date:

Tuesday, May 31 is World No Tobacco Day

It’s no secret that tobacco use is dangerous to your health. In fact, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and illness in Canada. For World No Tobacco Day 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing on plain packaging for tobacco products.

Plain packaging works for many reasons. According to the WHO, plain packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco products. In addition, it takes away potential marketing space for tobacco producers. It also limits misleading labelling and makes health warnings more effective.

If you think about it, it makes sense. We’re constantly being bombarded by advertising and at one time it was the same with tobacco products. Bans on advertising tobacco products on television and in print have helped lower the rates of tobacco use. Now there’s evidence that plain packaging can be effective as well.

A study in Europe found that the use of plain packaging combined with health warnings increased awareness about the health risks of tobacco use. In particular, using large “picture” type warnings coupled with plain packaging was very effective. The study also found that people were encouraged to quit using tobacco when this combination was used.

So, what’s Canada doing about plain packaging?

The government of Canada has confirmed its dedication to introducing plain packaging requirements for tobacco products. This could include bans on brand colors, logos and graphics as part of these requirements. To start the process, the Public Health Agency of Canada is looking into a cost-benefit analysis for plain packaging of tobacco products.

Interest in plain packaging is also increasing all around the world:

  • Australia was the first country to implement plain packaging in December 2012.
  • Ireland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and France all passed plain packaging laws. These laws will take effect this month.
  • A number of other countries are considering the adoption of plain packaging laws.

The WHO’s goal for World No Tobacco Day is to highlight the role of plain packaging as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control and support countries as they require plain packaging for tobacco products.

As a Tobacco Reduction Coordinator and father of a teenager, I think that anything that makes tobacco less attractive is worth pursuing. Perhaps we should take a page out of the tobacco control book from Australia.

Plain packaging poster

Plain packaging of tobacco products features standard sizes, neutral fonts, and dull colors for all brands to make tobacco products less visually appealing.

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a licensing officer 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 as well as a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator. 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.

Share

Not so cheap after all

World Health Organization campaign poster

The costs of illegal tobacco are high! The RCMP warns that contraband tobacco “injects criminal activity into our community.” How can you help to stop the trade of illegal tobacco?

May 31 is the annual World No Tobacco Day. It’s an important day for tobacco reduction coordinators like me. This year, it’s given me the chance to talk about an area that I haven’t covered in past blog posts.

For 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) has focused World No Tobacco Day on stopping the trade of contraband/illegal tobacco.* Across the world, the WHO suggests that one out of every ten cigarettes consumed has been sold illegally. The issue affects almost all countries.

You may have heard that Ontario and Central Canada have had issues with contraband tobacco, but what about B.C.?

In 2014, the Western Convenience Store Association commissioned an independent study to determine the percentage of untaxed tobacco sales in B.C. The results were surprising:

  • Contraband tobacco comprised 17.2% of the total cigarettes collected.
  • The three cities with the highest percentages were Vancouver (31.8%), Kamloops (22.4%) and Terrace (19.1%), my hometown.

For some, buying contraband tobacco may not seem like such a big deal. That is definitely not the case! According to the RCMP, organized crime groups are heavily involved in distributing contraband tobacco. The profits from the sale of contraband tobacco are often used to fund other illegal activities.

But it’s not just the criminal connections that are concerning. Contraband tobacco is sold without mandated health warnings or age verification. Since it’s cheaper, contraband tobacco contributes to people starting to use tobacco. For youth or those on a fixed income, it can be particularly attractive. It also takes millions out of the tax system that could be used to fund health care.

It seems to me that contraband tobacco isn’t so harmless after all!

There are things that can be done to stop the illegal trade of tobacco. The WHO suggests:

  1. Policy makers need to recognize that illegal tobacco contributes to the global tobacco use problem and is connected to organized crime. Write your local government representative about this issue.
  2. You can learn more about the negative health, economic and social effects of illegal tobacco. If you know someone who purchases illegal tobacco, talk to them about it. They might not be aware of just how harmful it is.
  3. More research can be done on the illegal trade of tobacco. Its harmful effects need to be fully understood. The role of the tobacco industry in this issue should also be looked at further.

The price of illegal tobacco may be cheap, but the costs to society are high!


*The RCMP defines contraband/illegal tobacco as: “any tobacco product that does not comply with federal or provincial law, which includes importation, marking, manufacturing, stamping and payment of duties and taxes.”

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a licensing officer 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 as well as a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator. 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.

Share

Tales from the Man Cave: World No Tobacco Day

A picture of the sun in the sky with the headline World No Tobacco Day and the subheading the sun will still shine tomorrow

Will this sunrise be the one that sees you quit tobacco?

Last year, when writing about World No Tobacco Day, I challenged you to drop the “World” and make it “Your No Tobacco Day” so that you knew exactly who’s in charge of quitting tobacco products.

I’m happy to report that a friend, and a reader of this blog, took up that challenge and successfully quit. My heart is with my friend’s family, with hopes that they may continue to live smoke free for life.

Quitting tobacco is the most difficult of tasks. There are many theories surrounding addiction. Some are brain based, centered on the mind or psyche. Some suggest that vulnerable individuals are more likely to become addicted than “normal” people. Some say we’re all addicted to something. Maybe it’s work, cleanliness, or food. Perhaps it’s control, the internet, or your own beliefs. Some research suggests there is an empty space deep within each of us that needs filling. An abyss, if you like. Others suggest that we self-medicate to reduce the pain of a stressful world.

Personally, I feel that all of these things ring true to some degree and that if you have to be addicted to something, make that one addiction something positive, like exercise. Am I correct? I don’t think it matters.

At an individual level, there is only you and the struggle you face to be free of that which harms you. There is help out there, like nicotine replacement, and informed evidence suggests that using that help improves your chances of quitting.

But, regardless of the help, the battle is yours.

Sure it’s World No Tobacco Day on May 31, but really its world with a small ”w”, your world. I hope you take up the challenge and good luck to you.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

Share

World No Tobacco Day: Thumbs-down to smoking in movies!

World No Tobacco Day

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day.

Today, May 31, marks World No Tobacco Day – an annual day of observance that highlights health risks caused by tobacco use. Each year since 1987, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners around the world mark World No Tobacco Day by highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. This year, the WHO is focusing on the importance of banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Over the past decades, BC and Canada have made tremendous gains in de-normalizing tobacco use through education, regulation and taxation. We have seen smoking rates creeping down – slowly and steadily. In 1965, 50% of Canadian adults smoked, and by 2009 this number was reduced to 17.5% (15% in BC).

Despite this remarkable progress, health promotion advocates continue to be concerned about the smoking rate of young adults – which at 23% is much higher than the national average for everyone over 15. Many health promotion organizations are worried that tobacco companies are investing in marketing tobacco products to youth and young adults.

The Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada estimates that 44% of 15 – 19 year old tobacco users were influenced to start by smoking seen in the movies (including brand and product placement). Sadly, they also estimate that 43,000 of those Canadian teens will die prematurely.

Evidence shows that comprehensive advertising bans lead to reductions in the numbers of people starting and continuing smoking. Statistics show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce tobacco demand and therefore a tobacco control “best buy.”

To help reduce tobacco use, comprehensive advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans work to counteract:

  • the deceptive and misleading nature of tobacco marketing campaigns
  • the unavoidable exposure of youth to tobacco marketing;
  • the failure of the tobacco industry to effectively self-regulate
  • the ineffectiveness of partial bans

The ultimate goal of World No Tobacco Day is to collaborate to protect present and future generations not only from these devastating health consequences, but also against the social, environmental and economic impacts of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Northern Health, along with the WHO and its partners, supports World No Tobacco Day and is committed to making our communities healthier places to live, work and play.

World No Tobacco Day or not, any day is a good day to quit using tobacco.

For support on quitting, contact:

Lee Cameron

About Lee Cameron

Lee Cameron has worked as a regional tobacco reduction coordinator within Northern Health’s population health team since 2005. Lee lives in Terrace and calls the northwest home. Outside of work she enjoys kayaking, canoeing, hiking and fishing. Lee is a strong advocate for smoke-free spaces and the fresh air that they provide.

Share

Tales from the Man Cave: World No Tobacco Day is coming soon

nicotine replacement therapy

With World No Tobacco Day approaching, make a “no tobacco day in your world.”

It has been more than 12 years since I last smoked a cigarette. Every now and again I feel the pull of this addiction, passing a smoker or having it catch my breath. I withdraw quite strenuously from that, of course, but it underlines the chronic relapsing nature of the addiction for me.

People addicted to tobacco are at the mercy of a brutal master, who cracks the whip every 45 minutes or so. We addicts would say we enjoy smoking; the truth, however, points more to enjoying the sensation of pain relief, as we reduce the craving.

Many of us started as kids, teenagers in many cases, and in my particular case as a nine-year-old. Many young men start in the workplace in their early 20s as they attempt to fit in and not stand out. These days we know that exposure to nicotine can cause an addiction in as little as two weeks.

The cure to addiction is at the other end of the crisis – withdrawal – and one must live through it, let it do its worst and gradually accommodate to the unpleasant feelings, while waiting for the brain to repair and adjust to the absence of the substance.

In this way, nicotine is very much like any other addiction, but one way in which it differs is that today we can use the substance itself in the form of replacement therapy to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco. Gum would be a good replacement for chew for example and deliver very similar effects.

Personally, I am not big on having “no” days such as World No Tobacco Day as a quit day but it gives the opportunity to know the enemy.

So slap a patch on and observe how your day goes. If it’s not so difficult for you, brilliant, maybe you can stay stopped. If it was awful, mark it as a practice day and resolve to practice again soon. The more you practice, the less power it will have over you.

Feel free to challenge yourself – who’s in the driving seat, you or tobacco? You might be surprised at the results.

In any case World No Tobacco Day reminds us that it’s estimated that one billion people are expected to die in this century from tobacco related disease. That’s right 1,000,000,000 people. Astronomical, isn’t it? Don’t be one of them, regardless of when World No Tobacco Day is, make a no tobacco day in your world, and take on this Northern Health tobacco reduction message:

It’s HARD to quit…and you CAN do it.

Other resources:

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

Share