Back to top

Help Smokers Quit – Now!

Louise Mott the BC Lung Association's Quit Now Health Promoter and Michael Jessen have a message for anyone thinking about or currently smoking. — Submitted
If you love a person who smokes do everything you can to help them quit – now!

Letting them continue to smoke will both shorten their life and put a costly burden on both our economy and our health care system.

You’ll likely spend 13 less years with that person you love.

A new report from the Conference Board of Canada says approximately 45,500 deaths were attributable to smoking in Canada in 2012, including nearly 1,000 deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke. This figure is up from the more than 37,000 deaths attributable to smoking a decade ago.

In 2012, 599,390 potential years of life were lost because of smoking – meaning smoking knocked an average of 13 years off the life of a smoker who became ill.

Smoking results in about 125 deaths each day in Canada – more than the total number of deaths due to car collisions, accidental injuries, and assaults.

The report found that total costs of tobacco use in Canada were $16.2 billion in 2012, with health care costs attributable to smoking estimated to be more than $6.5 billion and indirect costs due to lost production amounted to $9.5 billion.

Based on the latest Government of Canada’s Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, more than 3.9 million Canadians were smokers in 2015, including 2.8 million who reported smoking daily. Youth continue to experiment with tobacco, as almost one-fifth of grades 6 to 12 students had tried smoking a cigarette in 2014–15.

The health care costs attributable to smoking included the costs associated with hospital care ($3.8 billion), prescription drugs ($1.7 billion), and physician care ($1.0 billion). Meanwhile, other direct costs such as fire damage, tobacco research and prevention, and federal, provincial, and territorial tobacco control and law enforcement activities totalled nearly $207.1 million.

The report found indirect expenses make up the majority (58.5 per cent) of the total cost of smoking. This includes approximately $9.5 billion in forgone earnings as a result of smoking-attributable premature deaths and illnesses. Almost $2.5 billion were associated with premature mortality and about $7.0 billion were a result of short- and long-term disability.

“Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths and illnesses worldwide and, while much progress has been made to control it in Canada, millions of Canadians continue to smoke,” said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy for the Conference Board of Canada. “With an estimated 125 deaths from smoking in Canada each day, it is important for us to understand the costs imposed on the health care system and to society when Canadians continue to smoke.”

Children are among those most vulnerable to second-hand smoke as their lungs are still developing. There are a hundred different chemicals in second-hand smoke, and 70 of them are known to cause cancer.

The American Heart Association says breathing second-hand smoke during childhood can lead to long-term breathing and health problems and a shorter life expectancy.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths.

Conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetes mellitus, tuberculosis, liver cancer and colorectal cancer have been confirmed to be linked to smoking.

The BC Lung Association has managed a free province-wide smoking cessation program for almost the past decade with funding from the BC Ministry of Health.

Smokers can visit https://www.quitnow.ca/, call toll-free 1-877-455-2233, or text QUITNOW to 654321 to start a free Quit Plan.

If you want to spend more time with the smoker you love, help them quit this deathly habit.

Michael Jessen is the volunteer BC Lung Association director for Nelson and area. He can be reached at zerowaste@shaw.ca