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Get tough to butt out

Jan. 20 to 26 is national non-smoking week. It's a week for the Canadian Cancer Society B.C.

Jan. 20 to 26 is national non-smoking week. It's a week for the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. and Yukon Division to ask British Columbians to speak out in support of initiatives that prevent youth from starting to smoke and protect children and adults from the hazards of second-hand smoke and, in general, for everyone to take a closer look at smoking and the harmful effects it can have on all of us.

In this time of climate change, global warming and overall protection of the environment, thinking about "butting out" is a great way towards a healthier society.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, smoking currently plagues the health of thousands of British Columbians. However, there is some good news to report.

Last year the provincial government implemented strong resolutions regarding tobacco control by instituting a ban on the use of tobacco in schools and on school grounds and introducing new regulations that restrict the promotion and sale of tobacco products. And as of March of this year, smoking will be banned in all indoor public spaces and workplaces.

Across B.C., many local governments took their own action. Gibsons council, for instance, was looking at tougher smoking bans in its public parks. Prince George, Nanaimo and a host of other towns and cities established smoke-free zones, and the Health Authorities announced that, this year, their premises, like St. Mary's Hospital in Sechelt, would also go smoke-free. It's all good news and a step in the right direction, but clearly there is way more we can all be doing.

Did you know that tobacco remains the single most preventable cause of disease and death in Canada? It kills more than 6,000 British Columbians each year and is estimated to cost the B.C. economy $2.3 billion annually. Tobacco use causes 30 per cent of cancer deaths and 85 per cent of lung cancers.

Tobacco is one of the most pressing public health concerns facing B.C. and the world today.

Let's all do our part to send out a positive smoke-free message in our community and encourage our politicians, both locally on the Coast and at the provincial level, to continue to take a tough stance on the perilous habit of smoking.