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Minister Aglukkaq Marks National Non-Smoking Week With A Focus On Smoking Prevention For Youth

August 15, 2017

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, met with high school students to discuss ways to prevent young Canadians from taking up smoking. She was joined by Pierre Poilievre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, and the local Member of Parliament for Nepean-Carleton.

"Each of us has a role to play in helping prevent our youth from beginning to smoke, and to help people who do smoke, to quit," said Minister Aglukkaq. "I'm interested in the views of young Canadians on how we can keep their peers from taking up the habit."

Through the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, the Harper Government is committed to working with provinces, territories and other partners to reduce the smoking rates of all Canadians, with an emphasis on youth.

"The rate of smoking among Canadian teenagers aged 15 to 19 is 13%, the lowest that Health Canada has ever recorded," said Pierre Poilievre. "But we can do better."

Tobacco use is the single biggest cause of preventable disease and premature death in Canada. It has negative effects on nearly every organ of the body. Every year, an estimated 37,000 Canadians die from the effects of smoking, while many others are diagnosed with related illnesses such as heart disease, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.

Our government's Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed At Youth Act, which became law in October 2009, protects young people from tobacco industry marketing practices that entice them to smoke.

Specifically, the Act:

- puts an end to the selling of little cigars and blunt wraps in single or small quantity "kiddy-packs" that are affordable to youth;

- prohibits the addition of certain additives, like flavourings, which make little cigars, cigarettes and blunt wraps more attractive; and

- prohibits tobacco advertising in daily newspapers and free entertainment weeklies.

Our Government has also developed educational materials for parents as well as prevention and cessation programs for youth to help prevent youth smoking uptake and to support youth smoking cessation. Quit4Life is a smoking cessation program for youth. In addition, the Help Your Child Stay Smoke-free booklet provides age-specific information to parents on how to keep their children smoke-free. More information can be found on our website.

National Non-Smoking Week is an annual initiative devoted to preventing people from beginning to smoke and helping smokers quit. The theme for this year is "There are hundreds of reasons to quit... what's yours?"

The Government of Canada has recently pledged further action to inform Canadians about the dangers of tobacco.

On December 30, the Government of Canada announced that it will soon propose new, larger graphic health warning messages for cigarette and little cigar packages that will increase awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use.

As part of a new, comprehensive approach, the health warning messages on the pack would be complemented by a multimedia social marketing campaign, including the use of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, to reach and engage young adult smokers.

Health Canada