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Letter: Tobacco should be treated as an epidemic

Quitting smoking is tough. Ask anyone who’s managed it, or the thousands who haven’t. Telegram reporter Kenn Oliver is going to give it a try, and he’s inviting you along for the ride.
Smoking kills 45,000 Canadians every year. — Deposit photo

What is Canada’s leading preventable cause of disease and death? It’s tobacco.

Last week was National Non-Smoking Week, which provided a reminder that tobacco is still our No. 1 public health issue. Smoking kills 45,000 Canadians every year and is responsible for about 30 per cent of all cancer deaths.

Based on the number of Canadians it kills, tobacco should be treated as an epidemic. It is well established that comprehensive, well-financed and sustained government strategies are highly effective at reducing smoking. With the current Federal Tobacco Control Strategy expiring in March 2018, we urge federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor to bring forward an aggressive new strategy with far better funding to achieve the goal of less than five per cent tobacco use by 2035.

Canada has made significant progress but an enormous amount of work remains. The lives of a vast number of Canadians hang in the balance.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst
Canadian Cancer Society
Ottawa

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