Nunavummiut urged to quit smoking

National Non-Smoking Week starts on Sunday, Jan. 21


It’s national Non-Smoking Week Jan. 21 to Jan. 27. (FILE PHOTO)

It’s national Non-Smoking Week Jan. 21 to Jan. 27. (FILE PHOTO)

As national Non-Smoking week starts on Sunday in Canada, the Government of Nunavut has asked Nunavut residents to do their part in preventing tobacco addiction by becoming aware of what programs are available to help themselves and their family members reduce their reliance on tobacco products.

The awareness week, which has taken place since the late 1970s, falls right at the end of what is already Tobacco Reduction Month in the territory.

“Smoking is harmful,” GN spokesperson Sarah Paterson said in a public service announcement, Jan. 18. “It makes asthma worse, increases risks of pneumonia, decreases lung function and can lead to significant health concerns, such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

The PSA added that your chances of successfully quitting smoking will double if you seek help from a counsellor or use medical quit-smoking aids, like the nicotine patch, gum and inhaler. You can get these for free at your local health centre or pharmacy.

The rates of tobacco-use are high among adults, youth and children in Nunavut,” Paterson said. According to Statistics Canada, one in two Nunavut youth smoke. This figure is three times higher than it is for other Canadian youth.

“It affects breathing and makes physical activity like singing or playing sports, for example, very difficult. Cigarettes, chewed tobacco and snuff are harmful and addictive, even after only a few uses,” Paterson said.

The addiction is also expensive. While in 2015 the average Nunavut smoker was spending around $6,000 annually on tobacco products, a new tax introduced by the federal government last year on tobacco and alcohol makes that cost even higher.

Tobacco has been linked to an increasing likelihood of getting tuberculosis, by both Ottawa Hospital TB researcher Gonzalo Alvarez and the World Health Organization.

In September, Canadian health advocate Stephen Lewis called Nunavut the epicentre of TB in Canada.

If you are looking for help with giving up tobacco, you can call the Nunavut Quit Line anytime at 1-866-368-7848. You can also look for tools online at the Nunavut Quits website.

To see what events are happening in your community to help with tobacco reduction, check out the Tobacco Has No Place Here Facebook page.

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