Smoking rates have never been lower. More people are quitting smoking in Ontario, more are being protected from exposure to second-hand smoke and children and teens are deciding they’ll never start smoking.
Since 2006, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act has been making our province a better place to breathe.
“By giving legislative force to the policies, programs and public education initiatives of the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act has helped to drive a decade of progress in reducing the harm caused by tobacco use,” said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association.
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act – a good time to remember that policies designed to combat nicotine addiction are not only good for our collective health, they’re good for our collective wealth too.
A new study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences finds that reducing unhealthy behaviour such as smoking, unhealthy diet and alcohol consumption and physical inactivity, has saved the province almost $5 billion in health-care costs over the past decade. A staggering 90 per cent of that total ($4.4 billion) was driven by successful smoking cessation efforts.
“Notwithstanding the success of the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, smoking is still the number one cause of preventable illness and death in Ontario,” said Habib. “That is why we must continue to press for stronger tobacco control policies, higher tobacco taxes and more support for people who want to overcome their addiction to nicotine.
“Ensuring that every person who wants to quit has access to smoking cessation counselling and proven over-the-counter and prescription medications will save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs to the Ontario economy.”
Youth Events Across the Province Celebrate Anniversary
Established in 2005, the Youth Advocacy Training Institute (YATI) is a program of the Ontario Lung Association funded through the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy. Since its inception YATI has worked with more than 27,000 youths, young adults and adults across the province to equip them with knowledge and skills to prevent and reduce tobacco use, promote health and advocate for positive change in their communities through youth engagement.
YATI and the Ontario Lung Association are supporting youth-led Smoke-Free Ontario Act 10th anniversary celebrations throughout the province including:
- Port Dover – Lawn games, street teams, a flashmob and scavenger hunt.
- London – A Smoke-Free Champions awards presentation and a walk-through tunnel featuring milestones from 10 years of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
- Belleville – A “Plain Party” promoting the shift to plain packaging for tobacco products and including educational games, give-aways and plain (mainly white) snacks.
- Thunder Bay – A Smoke-Free Champions awards ceremony.
- Ottawa – A ceremony to rededicate the park named for anti-tobacco pioneer Heather Crowe.
- Barrie, Markham, Whitby, Peterborough – Displays, activities and photo opportunities at community centres, schools and health units highlighting Smoke-Free Ontario Act milestones and achievements and recognizing anti-tobacco champions.