IN2002, Alberta introduced its first Tobacco Reduction Strategy. Since then, the rate for Albertans age 15
and over who smoke has dropped
from 25 to 18 per cent.
While tobacco use remains a concern
in certain groups of people in Alberta
and across Canada, a 2012 report
declared the decrease of smoking
among Canadians over the past 45 years
as “one of the most important public
health achievements of our time.”
Alberta’s Tobacco Reduction Strategy
will continue in the years ahead, with
the goal of reducing tobacco use to
12 per cent by 2022.
As the rate of tobacco use declines,
more and more Albertans will experience
the benefits of being tobacco free. Here
are some of them.
For every day you don’t smoke, you add
about five hours to your life expectancy,
which could be the difference in seeing
your kids graduate or get married and
your grandchildren take their first steps.
Smoking is a major cause of premature
death worldwide. Quitting smoking
is the single best thing you can do to
improve your health and quality of life,
the Canadian Lung Association says.
“There are huge benefits to being a
non-smoker,” says Dr. Paul MacEachern,
a respirologist at the Foothills Medical
Centre in Calgary. “The biggest benefit of
quitting cigarettes is that lung function
improves quickly.” (See sidebar “Every
minute, hour, month, year counts.”)
By not smoking—or never smoking—
you have a much lower risk of getting
dozens of smoking-related diseases
such as lung cancer, heart disease and
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), including emphysema and
“If people use the product the way
that’s suggested on the package, half
of all smokers would die far sooner,”
says Dr. James Talbot, the chief medical
officer of health for Alberta.
Tobacco smoke has more than
7,000 chemicals in it, including 69 known
carcinogens such as carbon monoxide,
formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide.
And that chemical brew can harm
almost every organ in the body.
For example, tobacco use can lead
to blocked arteries, stroke and high
blood pressure, diabetes and poor
bone density, as well as infertility and
unhealthy infant birthweight. Several
types of cancer such as stomach, cervix,
throat, mouth and esophagus—to name
a few—are also linked to smoking.
“In some cases those tobacco chemicals
can damage DNA,” says Dr. Brent Friesen,
the medical officer of health for Safe &
Healthy Environments, Population &
Public Health, Alberta Health Services.
“In other cases they compromise the
Healthier babies & children