Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut November 14, 2016 - 1:10 pm

Nunavummiut smoking more than ever: report

“[Smoking rates] remain consistently high and pose a major public health threat to the territory"

SARAH ROGERS
Nunavummiut bought more than 56 million cigarettes in 2015. (FILE PHOTO)
Nunavummiut bought more than 56 million cigarettes in 2015. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavummiut bought more than 56 million cigarettes in 2015, says the territory’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in a new report.

That’s up from 54.5 million cigarettes sold in 2014.

The 2015-16 annual report on Nunavut’s Tobacco Control Act shows that while most Canadian jurisdictions have seen steady declines in smoking rates and tobacco use, Nunavut smoking rates are actually on the rise.

“[Smoking rates] remain consistently high and pose a major public health threat to the territory,” noted the report, tabled earlier this month at the Legislative Assembly.

A 2012 study found that individual smokers in Nunavut pay up to $6,000 a year to feed their habit.

The territory’s current tobacco use sits at 62 per cent—up two percentage points from 2014.

Local community surveys report smoking rates as high as 84 per cent in some Nunavut communities, the report found.

By contrast, Canada’s overall smoking rate sits at about 18 per cent.

The results of a high smoking rate in Nunavut are cause for alarm, the report notes: the territory has a lung cancer rate of 157 cases per 100,000, three times the national average.

Health officials say about 90 per cent of lung cancer cases are caused by tobacco use.

That’s why tobacco reduction initiatives are “an important public health priority in Nunavut,” the report said.

To that end, the Government of Nunavut says it’s made strides under the Tobacco Control Act, enacted in 2014 to ensure public places are smoke free and to reduce access to tobacco products, particularly through restrictions to the display and sale of cigarettes in the territory.

Since 2014, that’s included the development and delivery of tobacco education and outreach materials for all the 93 tobacco retailers across the territory, while environment health officers were set to begin tobacco retailer inspections this year.

The territory’s tobacco act also prohibits smoking within three metres of a workplace or public place, or within 15 metres of a school.

The GN says its framework for action has now been fully implemented.

But an exchange with Nunavut’s Health minister in the legislature last month revealed that no fines have ever been levied under the act for smoking within prohibited areas.

Health Minister George Hickes argued that the government’s focus is reducing smoking rates among Nunavut youth.

When asked if the GN would consider updating the act and expanding the no-smoking radius around buildings and doorways, Hickes said there is currently no plan to amend the act.

Nunavut’s five-year tobacco reduction action plan, “Nunavut Tobacco Framework for Action, Tobacco Has No Place Here”, or “Tuvvaakiqariaqanngilaq” in Inuktitut, expires later this year.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share

 THIS WEEK’S ADS

 ADVERTISING