Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut January 16, 2017 - 2:30 pm

Keep youth from smoking, Nunavut government urges

"Teach our children traditional values of living healthy and tobacco-free lives"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
This week, the Government of Nunavut is urging people to keep youth away from smoking. (HANDOUT IMAGE)
This week, the Government of Nunavut is urging people to keep youth away from smoking. (HANDOUT IMAGE)

If you live in Nunavut, encourage youth to stay tobacco-free: That’s because the earlier you start smoking, the harder it is to quit.

“Cigarettes are addicting, even after a few times using them” is the message from the Government of Nunavut during National Non-Smoking Week, Jan. 15 to Jan. 21.

“As role models, parents and caregivers, we can pass on something better like stories, wisdom, support and security. Let’s teach our children traditional values of living healthy and tobacco-free lives,” the GN said in a recent public service announcement.

Many Nunavut adults—more than eight in 10 in some Nunavut communities—keep the territory’s tobacco-use rate at 62 per cent.

And smoking remains a big and expensive habit, costing the average Nunavut smoker more than $6,000 a year—it adds up to more than 56 million cigarettes smoked in Nunavut every year.

The results of a high smoking rate in Nunavut also means that lung cancer, in most cases caused by tobacco use, is three times the national average.

“Smoking is harmful. It makes asthma worse, increases risks of pneumonia and decreases lung function. Smoking affects breathing and makes singing or playing sports more difficult,” the GN said.

Among Nunavut youth, smoking is more than three times higher than in the rest of Canada, with more than one in two youth smoking, according to Statistics Canada.

The idea of curbing smoking among young Nunavummiut is sound because Canadians typically begin smoking during their teenage years: The numbers who have not started smoking by 20 are an indicator of future smoking rates, StatsCan says.

So, during this week in Nunavut, the GN is also urging parents and family members to comply with the Tobacco Control Act and avoid giving tobacco to anyone under 19.

The territory’s tobacco act also prohibits smoking within three metres of a workplace or public place, or within 15 metres of a school, although 12 years into the Nunavut Tobacco Control Act, no fines have been levied for smoking within prohibited areas.

You can learn more about talking to children and youth about tobacco or for information on becoming tobacco-free, visit the Nunavut Quits website or the “Tobacco has no place here” Facebook page.

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