Ain’t no smokin’ at the house of blue lights

ITK launches blue light campaign to combat tobacco


Non-smoking Inuit homes in Canada will glow blue over the coming year to signal their household’s commitment to go smoke-free, said Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, in Ottawa at the May 31 launch of two new programs aimed at reducing smoking rates and improving the health of families, infants and new mothers.

“These programs are about reducing the extraordinarily high prevalence of smoking among Inuit, which contributes to a rate of lung cancer among Inuit that is the highest in the world — and rising,” said Simon in an ITK news release.

“They are about providing support and encouragement to Inuit, and helping families realize that they can take control of their health and their lives.”

The projects include the “Blue Light Campaign,” in which families will get a blue light bulb to install on their porch to signal that their home is smoke free.

The light means either that there are no smokers in the household, that the household’s smokers have always smoked outdoors, or that they have begun smoking outdoors to reduce the impact of second-hand smoke on others in the family, ITK says.

A second project, called “Born Smoke-Free,” is aimed at women who are pregnant or might become pregnant.

Some studies have found smoking rates of 80 per cent or more among pregnant women. In Iqaluit, researchers determined that 85 per cent of infants had been exposed to tobacco in the womb, ITK notes.

“Recognizing these alarming statistics does not mean casting judgment,” said Simon. “Our goal is to promote Inuit-specific, culturally affirming and community-empowering initiatives to reduce the use of tobacco among Inuit.”

ITK says the programs, already started in several Nunatsiavut and Nunavik communities, will now be extended to select communities in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and one more Nunavik community.

Inuit households in Ottawa will also be included through the Ottawa-based Tungasuvvingat Inuit organization.

The May 31 launch of the two programs coincides with the annual World No Tobacco Day.

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