Message from the Minister of Health, National Non-Smoking Week, January 15-21, 2017

Statement

January 15-21, 2017 is National Non-Smoking Week in Canada, and marks an opportunity to learn more about the dangers of tobacco use and support those who want to quit. Tobacco use unfortunately remains the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in Canada.

We are seeing progress, and our government will continue to take action. In 2015, the overall smoking rate in Canada was 13%, down from 25% in 1999. This is great news, but there is still much work to be done. Despite decades of efforts, recent research indicates that 4.5 million Canadians continue to use tobacco products and approximately 115, 000 Canadians began smoking daily in 2015. Tobacco control remains a priority for our Government. Last spring, we launched public consultations on plain packaging for tobacco products, measures that will reduce their appeal and attractiveness, particularly among youth and young adults. We recently finalized the summary report of the public consultation on plain packaging, and invite Canadians to review our findings here.

To further reduce the appeal of tobacco to youth, our government introduced a proposed Order that would amend the Tobacco Act to ban the use of menthol in cigarettes, blunt wraps and most cigars sold on the Canadian market. And to address the growing e-cigarette market, we recently introduced important legislation -- the proposed Tobacco and Vaping Products Act. The proposed Act aims to protect youth from nicotine addiction and tobacco use while allowing adult smokers to access vaping products as likely less harmful alternatives to tobacco.

Later this month, Health Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society are re-launching Break It Off, a tobacco cessation, awareness and outreach campaign that visits college and university campuses to connect with young Canadians and help them to become smoke-free. We will be renewing the health warning messages on tobacco packages, and we are searching for Canadians who would like to share their story to help raise awareness about the health hazards of tobacco use.

In addition, as part of our efforts to develop a new and innovative Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, I will host a national forum in early 2017, to discuss the future of tobacco control and hear from a wide range of stakeholders and Canadians. More details will follow in the weeks to come.

If you are looking for additional support to help you quit smoking, I encourage you to contact the pan-Canadian toll-free quitline, where trained specialists can help you develop a quit smoking plan, answer questions and provide referrals to programs and services in your community.

The pan-Canadian toll-free quitline can be reached by phone at 1-866-366-3667, or online at http://www.gosmokefree.gc.ca/quit.

Let’s work together to create a smoke-free Canada.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

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