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Coalition wanting provincial government to help slash the volume of smokers in BC

BC’S Clean Air Coalition is working hard to reduce the province’s tobacco rates.

The group consisting of members from the BC Lung Association, Heart and Stroke and Canadian Cancer Society brought forward numerous strategies to the province ranging from increasing the legal smoking age to 21 and further protecting residents who live in multi-unit homes from second hand smoke.

The habit is a costly one, killing about 16 people per day and over 6,000 residents every year.

“We have one of the lowest per capita smoking rates in all of Canada, which hovers around 11 or 12%. Unfortunately, because of our population we have the fourth most smokers in all of Canada, we have about 525,000 smokers in British Columbia who smoke,” says Jack Boomer, Coalition Lead.

In Northern BC, the smoking rate within the health region is hovering around 20%.

Tobacco use in BC is also putting a strain on the healthcare system.

“In British Columbia alone it is a cost of about 2.1 billion dollars every year in direct and indirect costs to the healthcare system and to the province’s economy – this is a significant cost because in the northern health authority if one out of five northern households are smoking that’s a tremendous burden to the northern healthcare system.”

Some of the Coalition’s proposed changes to the government consist of protect residents living in a certain type of housing and finding more creative ways to reduce tobacco use.

“Many people live in multi-unit dwellings more so now than ever before and what we’re encouraging the provincial government to do is to find ways to protect people from second-hand smoke in these buildings and we have presented strategies to move forward with that,” added Boomer.

“Believe it or not many states and jurisdictions are increasing the legal smoking age to 21 – the other thing we want to do is make retailers more accountable for the selling of tobacco products. In British Columbia, we have 5,500 retail licenses available to people who want to sell tobacco products.”

Pharmacies in BC are also allowed to sell tobacco products and is the only jurisdiction in Canada that does so.

The strategies have been submitted during the start of National Non-Smoking Week.

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