Lloydminster resident Lorelee Marin invited 15 teenage hockey players to give her any spit tobacco tins in their hockey bags for a display shewas making. They came up with 42 spit tins.
Across the province, while spit tobaccouse is comparatively low (about one totwo per cent of the population), it is usedby many young men in rodeo, baseballand, more recently, hockey and wrestling.
Still, that accounts for 37 per cent ofthe spit (or chew) tobacco consumedin Canada. Cigarette use is also higherin Alberta than the national average:
17. 7 per cent compared to 17. 3 per centaccording to the 2011 Canadian TobaccoUse Monitoring Survey. That’s a dramaticdecline from the 1960s, when the ratewas 50 per cent.
Nonetheless, more than half a millionAlbertans smoke, burning throughan average of 14 cigarettes a day,and smoking rates hover as high as
24 per cent among those in their early
20s. Higher tobacco use also persistsamong people working in trades,transport and equipment operation,those with less formal education orliving on low incomes, Aboriginal Peoplesand people living with a mental illness.
Males are still five per cent more likelyto smoke than females, although thegap has narrowed in recent decades.
Smokers and chewers are often blamedfor their tobacco use and the resultingside effects.
Yet many tobacco users begin beforethey are old enough to know the consequences, says Jennifer Lindstrom, acoordinator with Alberta Health Services’Tobacco Reduction Program. “Kids startsmoking as young as 11 or 12 years ofage, and the vast majority are addictedby 18. They have no concept of addictionuntil they become addicted.” Researchshows addiction can be formed in amatter of days.
Exactly what’s drawing another generationof Albertans in? Les Hagen of Action onSmoking and Health (ASH) lists threereasons: affordability, accessibility andallure. Compared to other provinces,cigarettes are more affordable inAlberta due to relatively high wagesand low tobacco taxes. Alberta alsoallows tobacco sales at age 18, a yearyounger than several other provinces.
While most tobacco advertising is
A deadly catch-up game
banned in Canada, it regularly crosses
the border in magazines and is ingrained
in movies, TV programs, videos and video
games. Hagen says that is “a huge cause
products and on all flavoured tobacco
After the Second World War, morewomen took up smoking. The gendergap in cigarette use has continuedto narrow in recent decades, as menquit smoking at a faster rate thanwomen. The 2011 Canadian TobaccoUse Monitoring Survey found 15 per centof Alberta females smoke, comparedto about 20 per cent of males.
Pregnancy & smoking
Today it is well known that tobaccosmoke exposes unborn children toharmful toxins.
Contrary to myth, tobacco smoke is notfiltered out by the placenta and can harmunborn babies in a number of ways.
In her three decades as a publichealth nurse, Barb Borkent (who is withThe Lung Association, Alberta and NW T)often heard the argument that quittingwhile pregnant stresses the unborn child.
She is quick to debunk the notion. “That’s
A desire to quit
not true. All studies show improvements
in health for both the baby and the
pregnant woman. It’s better to quit
than to continue smoking.”
Still, quitting a tobacco addiction is
Talk to tobacco users and you’ll findmost eager to kick the addiction, saysLindstrom. “It’s really important torecognize tobacco use is not a choice.
Rarely do you meet a smoker who
doesn’t want to quit.”
For those who want to act on their
desires, help is available. (See “Breaking
the cycle” on page 48.)
— Cheryl Mahaffy
Gateway to nicotine
industry is also
using flavoured tobacco
to “hook” teens and
then “graduate” them
to heavier doses
The tobacco industry is also usingflavoured tobacco to “hook” teens andthen “graduate” them to heavier dosesof nicotine. A recent Health Canadasurvey found almost two-thirds ofyoung smokers in Alberta use flavouredproducts. The use of water pipes (hookahs)is also growing among youth in Alberta.
Electronic or e-cigarettes, are also sold ina variety of flavours. In response, severalAlberta advocacy groups are calling fortighter regulations or bans on these