Health Services. “If you were handling
substances like these in the workplace,
you’d be wearing a haz-mat (hazardous
What’s more, new tobacco and
tobacco-like products are being created,
many barely regulated, if at all. Ranging
from flavoured cigars and cigarillos to
hookahs and e-cigarettes, many are
“gateway” products specifically targeted
to new young smokers.
Take the e-cigarette. Available in fruity flavours, it’s a slim cylinder containing a solution (with or without nicotine) that’svaporized with a rechargeable heaterand inhaled. E-cigarettes containingnicotine are not approved for sale inCanada.
Health Canada strongly advises
For more about the forms of tobacco,
against any use of e-cigarettes due
to evidence of toxic vapours. Equally
worrisome, e-cigarettes make smoking
seem safe and acceptable again,
says Jennifer Lindstrom, a program
coordinator with AHS. “We’ve worked
so hard to make smoking not normal.
The use of e-cigarettes is working
against all those efforts.”
New tobacco products make it hard
to combat nicotine addiction. “We’ve
had a lot of success, but more needs
to be done,” Lindstrom says. “Addiction
to tobacco products remains our single
leading preventable cause of illness,
disability and death.”
Generations after Sir Walter Raleigh
widened tobacco’s reach, Alberta’s
efforts continue to reduce tobacco
Imagine telling someone who’s never seen a cigarette about smoking. Comedian Bob Newhart did decades ago. In the skit, he’s on the phone
with Sir Walter Raleigh, who discovered
tobacco in North America, and wants
to ship some home. After learning that
you’re supposed to roll tobacco inside
a piece of paper, put the paper between
your lips and set fire to it, Newhart
can barely speak between guffaws.
“You inhale the smoke, huh?” he splutters.
“You know, Walt… it seems you can stand
in front of your own fireplace and have
the same thing going for you!”
Tobacco’s long history among First
Nations people in North America is
well documented. It has been used
in rituals, ceremonies and prayer
for thousands of years. Among First
Nations, traditional tobacco use has
always been, and remains sacred,
although non-traditional use among
them has grown to be epidemic. The
use of tobacco and attitudes towards
it have also shifted significantly over
time among First Nations and other
users around the world.
In the 1900s, tobacco use took off,propelled by new manufacturing techniques that produced cheap, ready-madecigarettes and savvy marketing thatdepicted smoking as sexy and alluring.In wartime, tobacco companies sentfree cartons to troops.
Before long, evidence began linkingsmoking, and later second-hand andthird-hand smoke, to cancers and lung,heart and other diseases. Attemptsto curtail advertising and sales wereoutgunned by a strong tobacco lobbythat deliberately withheld informationand misled the public and governments.By 1966, more than half of Canadianssmoked; per capita consumption was4,100 cigarettes a year.
products make it
hard to combat nicotine
addiction. “We’ve had a
lot of success, but more
needs to be done,”
But the tide was turning. Towns and cities began to restrict indoor smoking in the 1970s. In 1988, Bill C- 51, later knownas the Tobacco Products Control Act, waspassed, limiting advertising and indoorsmoking, increasing taxes and requiringhealth warnings on packages. By 1991,
35 per cent of Canadians 15 years oldand over smoked.
Today, fewer than one in every fiveadult Albertans smoke. As Les Hagenof Action on Smoking and Health says,several strategies made it happen.“It’s about changing the smoking norms,providing a supportive environment forkids to stay smoke free and encouraging
While the downward trend in smoking has slowed, smoking does continue, in part due to the constantevolution of tobacco and tobacco-likeproducts, media portrayal of smokingand ongoing targeted marketingcampaigns. Meanwhile, today’scigarettes are far more lethal thanthe ones our grandfathers smoked.
“The typical cigarette has 69 class ‘A’carcinogens,” says Darrel Melvin,a program consultant with Alberta