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Canadian Public Health Association

Fighting the good fight: Heather Crowe

Every 11 minutes, a Canadian dies from tobacco use. Every 10 minutes, two Canadian teenagers start smoking cigarettes and one of them will lose her life because of it. More than a thousand Canadians who never smoked die every year due to exposure to tobacco smoke. And yet, smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death and disease in Canada.

- Health Canada

Heather CrowThere is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke!

In March 2002, Heather Crowe was diagnosed with lung cancer although she had never smoked a day in her life. Her doctor explained that her lung cancer was caused by exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace and that it would kill her. Ms. Crowe had worked as a waitress for 40 years. Because she became sick from exposure to smoke at work, she took her case to Workers' Compensation and her claim was accepted. Health Canada asked her to appear in a campaign to tell the public about the dangers of second-hand smoke. She agreed. She demanded better laws to protect workers from second-hand smoke.

When Heather Crowe began her campaign, only about 5% of Canadians lived in places where every worker was protected from second-hand smoke. Four years later, laws were in place to protect 80% of Canadians. Many communities, provinces and territories banned smoking in workplaces only after Ms. Crowe visited them and made her personal appeal. Heather Crowe died on May 22, 2006 at age 61.

Heather Crowe's Legacy: An Ordinary Canadian's Extraordinary Gift