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Canadian Public Health Association

Ending the tobacco epidemic: A call for a tobacco-free Canada by 2035

The evidence against tobacco use is clear and irrefutable; and so is the need for decisive and committed action to end tobacco-related deaths and suffering to improve the public's health. Despite the efforts of many stakeholders and practitioners, and the considerable progress made to date with fewer Canadians using tobacco products, the battle is not yet won.

While there is clear evidence of tobacco's toxicity and profoundly adverse health effects, there are still a staggering 21% of Canadians aged 15 years and older who smoke. These rates are startling, as tobacco use can take a tragic toll on the health, productivity and well-being of Canadians. In response to these trends, CPHA has developed a position statement on tobacco control, to help mobilize the public health community to sustain comprehensive tobacco control initiatives that will help to ameliorate the negative health outcomes associated with tobacco consumption in Canada.

Winning the battle against tobacco will require the commitment and perseverance of all levels of government as well as the public health community. It is important for the recommendations outlined in the report to be translated into actions that will initiate stronger legislation on tobacco advertising, pricing and access; as well as improve efforts to promote cessation and improve tobacco control. Sustained tobacco control efforts will play an important role in alleviating the impact of tobacco consumption on the health of all Canadians.

Here are some ideas on how to translate this knowledge into effective action:

  • Build a network with community coalitions to advocate for strict bans on the sale and use of tobacco products in areas that are highly accessible or visible to children and youth.
  • Promote the adoption and use of national cessation guidelines in clinical practice and population-based strategies (CANADAPTT guidelines).
  • Work with Provincial and National Health Professional and Public Health Associations to advocate for and encourage adoption of highly accessible smoking cessation supports such as a national quit-line or other brief contact cessation interventions.
  • Partner with population-specific groups (i.e. community groups and non-profit agencies working with youth, low-income adults, those with mental illness or substance abuse disorders) to develop appropriate cessation interventions and promote tobacco-free living.
  • Engage local municipal governments to enact by-laws to protect Canadians from exposure to second-hand smoke and other tobacco related products.
  • Seek opportunities to train and build the capacity of future health workers and professionals to sustain tobacco control efforts by embedding tobacco control principles within public health education and training programs.