Community feast in Iqaluit aimed at tobacco reduction
GN event Jan. 19 features country food and door prizes
This Saturday, Jan. 19, the Government of Nunavut will hold a community feast at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit to mark National Non-smoking Week.
The event, which starts at 5:30 p.m., aims to challenge smokers and non-smokers to take steps towards reducing tobacco use in Nunavut.
There will be country food at the feast, including caribou, maktaaq, char, and seal, as well as bannock and drinks.
It’s all part of the GN’s Health and Social Services department’s territory-wide campaign called Tobacco Has No Place Here.
“The campaign features the faces, voices, and stories of real Nunavummiut who have been affected by tobacco. The goal of the campaign is to get the conversation started about the real cost of tobacco use in our communities and encourage people to start thinking about quitting,” said Dianne Denton, tobacco campaign community planner for the GN.
Part of the campaign includes the “steps for change challenge.”
The challenge asks Nunavummiut to take one step towards helping Nunavut become tobacco-free.
“Whether it’s throwing your butts in a can, not smoking around children, or setting a quit date – everyone can do something, whether you smoke or not,” Denton said.
People can enter by filling out an entry form at an event in their community, or at the community feast in Iqaluit on Jan. 19. Entry cards are also available at local health centers.
But Nunavut’s smoking rates are still very high.
Statistics Canada data from 2011 estimates that 60 per cent of Nunavummiut aged 12 and over smoke daily or occasionally.
And tobacco use has serious health consequences that are affecting Nunavummiut, such as cancer.
Lung cancer is responsible for 49 per cent of cancer deaths in Nunavut, and 90 per cent of lung cancer in men and 70 per cent in women is caused by smoking, Denton said.
“We want people to reflect on the real costs of tobacco use – it is causing illness and death among our family, friends, and community members,” she said.
In 2011, the Nunavut tobacco reduction framework for action was approved and released by the GN, outlining a five-year plan for reducing tobacco use in the territory.
The government hopes to do that through increasing community awareness, education of youth, monitoring and adjusting taxation, and researching, monitoring, and evaluating tobacco reduction activities, for example.
An implementation plan for that framework is under review.
“We expect that the plan and accompanied funding, coming from the increase in tobacco taxes last February, will enable us to take action in other areas that are important for tobacco reduction, like strengthening clinical cessation services and enforcing the Tobacco Control Act,” Denton said.
At the feast, there will be door prizes, giveaways, trivia prizes, and a booth where people can enter the Steps for Change Challenge.
There are two categories for the Challenge – the youth category for people 18 and under and an adult category for people 19 and older.
There is one prize per community for each category: an iPod for the youth category and a healthy food basket worth $200 for the adult category.
The Iqaluit draw will take place Jan. 25 at the Aqsarnitt middle school. Everyone who enters the Challenge will also be entered into a Nunavut-wide draw, which will take place on March 1st.
The prizes for the Nunavut-wide draw are a MacBook for the youth category and a canvas wall tent for the adult category.
People thinking about quitting smoking can get help by calling the Nunavut Quitline at 1-866-3NU-QUIT or visiting http://www.nuquits.gov.nu.ca.
For a list of community events about the “steps for change” challenge, people can visit http://www.steps4change.ca.