Tobacco hurts everybody, not just smokers

Eric Hoskins

As we approach the new year, many Ontarians will want to make a change and embrace a more healthy lifestyle. For many that will include quitting cigarette smoking.

If you are planning to quit smoking, that’s excellent news. Not only will you feel healthier and happier, but you will have a lot more disposable income that you won’t be spending on cigarettes.

It’s not easy to quit. Tobacco is among the most addictive products available, made more addictive and dangerous by additives and nicotine added by cigarette makers.
Tobacco use leads to 13,000 deaths every year in Ontario. It also costs taxpayers $2.2 billion a year in health-care resources. The Ontario government has been a leader in fighting the scourge of tobacco, and our efforts are paying off. Since 2000, the smoking rate has dropped from 24.1 percent to 18.1 percent. But there’s still a long way to go.

In early November, the Ontario government announced new measures to strengthen the Smoke Free Ontario Act to better protect children and people who don’t smoke.
These initiatives will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. Starting in the new year, it will be:

  • Illegal to smoke on bar and restaurant patios;
  • Illegal to smoke within 20 metres of playgrounds and sports fields; and
  • Illegal to sell tobacco on university and college campuses.

Smokers should know these measures are not meant to single out or embarrass them. They are meant, instead, to reduce the risk of serious health problems developing in children, seniors and other people who don’t smoke.

Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable disease and death in our society. We all know someone who has suffered painful and even fatal illnesses like cancer, heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder due to cigarette smoking.

If these measures help people stop smoking, it will also help families stay healthy, help businesses be more productive and save our health care system billions, meaning that we can invest the savings in other important programs.

If you are a smoker, there are a variety of accessible programs and therapies available to help you quit smoking. Many of these are supported by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Call the Ontario smokers’ help line at 1-877-513-5333 or go click here to find a program and resources near you.