Nunavut government urges residents to kick smoking

“Quitting smoking is the best thing that you can do to improve your health”

January in Nunavut is Tobacco Reduction Month. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

January in Nunavut is Tobacco Reduction Month, which also includes National Non-Smoking Week, beginning on Jan. 19.

“Quitting smoking is the best thing that you can do to improve your health,” said a public service announcement from the Government of Nunavut.

Minimizing second-hand smoke is another step that can reduce the harm caused by tobacco.

In order to protect your children and other community members, the public service announcement recommends making homes, vehicles and amautiit smoke-free.

“Poisons from tobacco stick to walls, furniture, carpets and clothing for long periods of time. Smoke and chemical residue are particularly harmful for children, pregnant women, elders and those with chronic heart and lung conditions.”

According to the Nunavut 2017-2018 Tobacco Control Act annual report, 74 per cent of Nunavummiut 16 or older reported smoking, in comparison to only 16 per cent of Canadians 12 or older residing in the provinces.

While the sales in Nunavut of non-cigarette smoked tobacco products like loose tobacco decreased by nearly 35 per cent between 2017 and 2018, cigarette sales slightly increased over the same time period, with 59 million cigarettes being sold territory-wide.

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

Medication like nicotine patches, gum and inhalers that help with cravings and withdrawals are available for no cost at local health centres or pharmacies.

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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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by A Sickening Fact That Needs to Change on

    Nunavut has the highest rate of pre-term births in Canada. This has been attributed to smoking while pregnant. According to statistics, 90% of pregnant women in Nunavut smoke while pregnant. That last sentence should be highlighted in red and in bold. This is shameful and needs to change. All the talk about improving the lot of Inuit, improving education, improving opportunities, yet the next generation has been handicapped before birth by the reckless and careless behavior of their own mothers.

    • Posted by Annie on

      I totally agree with u! Please stop smoking Inuit. If not for yourself for your children’s sake. Smoking is a sickening & costly bad habit?

    • Posted by SeesTheBiggerPicture on

      Smoking does contribute to preterm labour. However there are numerous factors that are contributing to the high preterm birth rate in Nunavut and neighboring Nunavik.

      Some of those factors are: lack of access to consistent water and sewage in the homes. Water and sewage trucks frequently need repairs and it’s not uncommon to run out of water or have it shut off from your sewage tank being full. Overcrowded housing also impacts health which can contribute to health issues. What about food insecurity and marginal nutrition due to the expense of the colonized diet plus hunting costs being quite expensive which makes traditional diet harder to maintain.

      Sexually transmitted infections are a big cause for preterm labour. And let’s not forget some of the issues around abuse (domestic and substance) which have strong ties to the generational traumas from residential schools, forced government relocation and suicide being at epidemic levels. There’s a lot of healing that needs to happen and more resources to maintain a better quality of life for some. So I’m not throwing that much weight of smoking as *the* cause. And shaming women for smoking isn’t going to help at all.

      There’s something called harm reduction and it’s far more successful than your shame tactics.

      – from a maternal health specialist in the far north

      • Posted by The enablers wept on

        “the expense of the colonized diet” … nice, maybe less smoking would free up some money for some of that fancy colonial food people don’t like. Either way, smoking while pregnant is shameful, period.

  2. Posted by Xerxes on

    Smoking causes illnesses and suffering that is entirely avoidable. Nicotine addiction can be difficult to overcome, but this can be made less challenging with the use of widely available Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) medications or other tobacco cessation medications. If you smoke and want to quit, please talk to a Doctor or Nurse. They can help connect you with support for your quit journey.

    We should already know that tobacco use is harmful. Here is some more information that might be helpful:

    * Health issues:
    – COPD – Almost 100% preventable if you never smoke during your lifetime.
    – Increased risk of lung cancer – Nunavut’s lung cancer rate is the highest in the world. Coincidentally, Nunavut’s smoking rate is among the highest in the world.
    – Increased risk of erectile dysfunction for men as young as 30 years old.
    – Increased risk of getting TB. Smoking weakens the lungs so it’s easier to get TB.

    * Food insecurity – Money is spent on feeding a nicotine addiction, rather than feeding the family. Nunavut has a very high rate of food insecurity. Quitting all tobacco products would be one way to help your family have funds for more food.

    * Mental health – A person with mental health issues is more likely to die from a tobacco-related disease than their mental health issue – some of the heaviest smoking is seen with this group. Please talk to a professional about how you can quit smoking.

    * Youth smoking – Since tobacco use (smoking and chew) is so common in Nunavut, youth will most likely see people smoking at home and around town every day. By quitting all tobacco products or never using tobacco products at all you are setting a good example for the children. Be the positive role model for a healthy life style!

    * Pregnant women – Who is more precious in our society than babies? When pregnant women smoke, they are creating a situation for their fetus that is setting them up for failure. Low birth weight, premature birth, secondhand smoke exposure once born, exposure to nicotine metabolites (cotinine) in the mother’s breast milk if she smokes during the time when she is breast feeding, increased risk of food insecurity in the home, and an astounding rate of bronchiolitis/RSV hospital admissions from age 0 to 2 years. Please talk to your Doctor if you are pregnant and smoke. There is help available for pregnant women who want to protect themselves and their baby from the harms of tobacco use.

    * Men – Men have a large impact on their family. If you quit tobacco or not use it at all, you are setting a good example for your friends and family. Be the role model that creates healthy change in your family or even community!

    * Employers – You can encourage a healthier workforce by having tobacco-free grounds at your worksites. This makes it less convenient for your workers to smoke during work time and lets your workers know that you care about their health. Tobacco-free grounds could mean no smoking within a certain distance of buildings or no smoking on company grounds period. Also, it could be helpful for your workers to know what tobacco cessation supports exist for them, i.e. company benefits for tobacco cessation medications, or information from a great public source like the Nunavut Tobacco Reduction Program. Less smoke breaks = more productivity too. Having a tobacco-free workforce may help your bottom line.

    In Canada, we have a guideline for medical professionals that gives evidence-based information about what to do when helping various specific groups along on their quit journey.

    I have found this guideline to be of tremendous value when helping people to make a tobacco cessation attempt.

    The Nunavut Quits website has two online training courses that can be of great utility for helping others to quit tobacco.

    I have taken both and strongly recommend them. The introductory course teaches the 3A’s approach (ASK, ADVISE, ACT). This is suitable for anyone to use, as it is a way of helping people know what resources are available to help someone quit tobacco.

    Everyday is a great day to quit tobacco!

  3. Posted by Like the chimney on

    Indeed, smokers in Nunavik too, need the red flag warning. It appears to be more smell of smoke than ever in entrances to public buildings. That’s means the employees are out smoking, just outside the door. Behind the door. One of the worst places is the airport in kuujjuaq. Most of the smokers are travellers, and its right in the entrance to the airport. Many are also employees, with their uniforms on, on a smoke break. They even throw the butt on the ground. Lots of smoking.

  4. Posted by Uvaali on

    So are the people trying to help us to quit smoking modelling this behavior?

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