Volume 94, Issue 67

Tuesday, January 23, 2001


U of T prof found murdered at school

Social sciences score funding

UWO giving e-books a chance

Carleton strike looming

Health Canada survey says fewer smoking

Officer assaulted


Corroded Disorder

Health Canada survey says fewer smoking

By Heather Buchan
Gazette Staff

To mark Canada's National Non-Smoking Week, the disturbing findings of a survey on smoking habits released last week has found that young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest smoking rates among Canadians.

The Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, released by Health Canada, is a bi-annual tobacco usage survey which tracks the changes in smoking behaviour and amount smoked by Canadians, specifically young Canadians.

Andrew Swift, a spokesperson for Health Canada, said although smoking among the 15-24 age group is levelling off at 28 per cent, down from 43 per cent in 1981, it is still unacceptably high.

"Why do people smoke? Young people are trying to be older, to do something they shouldn't, and many have a false sense of immortality," he said.

Since 1990, people over 25 years of age have shown a more significant reduction in smoking and the percentage of overall Canadians who smoke has been cut in half over the past 35 years, Swift said.

According to Swift, there are three areas under Health Canada's anti-tobacco plan that will make people aware of the health hazards, make it harder for youth to purchase cigarettes and hand out stronger fines to those who sell cigarettes to minors.

According to Frank Dwyer, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Council for Non-Smoking, the deadly effects of smoking should be ingrained within the youth culture and programs must be developed, rather than ineffective ads that run for short periods of time.

Health Canada is releasing six new anti-smoking ads in French and English this week which, according to Dwyer, will have some effect on smokers, but are not sustainable.

"The approach must be progressive. These ads are not effective as a long-term approach. We also must show smokers that we have respect for them and not alienate them," he said.

Dwyer also made reference to Non-Smoking Week, and said one week of awareness each year is not going to cause smokers to quit the habit. "Our government is not serious about the issue of smoking."

Paul Whitehead, sociology professor at Western, said it is important to remember smoking is a minority experience and it is also easier for people between the ages of 15 and 24 to quit smoking because they are not yet quite addicted.

However, Dwyer said that some scientists have determined people can become addicted after only 4 to 5 cigarettes.

Whitehead explained there are two reasons why smoking remains a social pattern among young adults, as is suggested in Health Canada's survey. "It is a way of separating oneself from society."

People perceive smoking as a deviant, yet lawful behavior and it allows young people to distinguish themselves from their peers and adults, he added. "Young girls also use smoking as a way of dieting, but there are obviously more effective and safer ways."

Rob Parker, president of the Canadian Manufacturer's Council, said he thinks consumers are already aware of the negative side effects of smoking, adding the industry has implemented warnings on packages for the past three decades

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Copyright The Gazette 2000