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The Impact of Tobacco Use
The burden of tobacco use…what are the facts?
Did you know that tobacco is a product that kills approximately half of its consumers? That is an alarming statistic considering that almost 5 million Canadians currently smoke.
Tobacco remains a leading preventable cause of death and chronic disease. Approximately 37,000 Canadians die annually from tobacco related causes. Most of these smokers will die before they are 70 years of age, losing an average of 22 years of life! The effects of tobacco extend beyond those that consume the product. Yearly, more than one thousand non-smoking Canadians deaths are attributed to exposure to tobacco through second hand smoke.
The social cost of tobacco use is enormous and so are the direct health care costs. Tobacco related illnesses cost Canadians an estimated $4.4 billion! A large portion of this cost can be attributed to the chronic diseases that cigarettes cause, including: cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. Smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to have coronary heart disease and stroke. Tobacco is also responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths including cancer of the lung, oral cavity, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and esophagus.
This is related to the over 4000 chemicals that are inhaled with each cigarette. This chemical mixture includes hydrazine (rocket fuel), methanol (antifreeze), acetone (nail polish remover), formaldehyde (embalming fluid), and hydrogen cyanide (rat poison); just to name a few. More than 40 are known carcinogens (substances known to cause cancer).
Canadians have taken action. As a result, we have made significant progress in tobacco control over recent years, seeing a dramatic decline in usage and a shift in attitudes toward tobacco. However, approximately 17% of Canadians still smoke and the decline we have seen over the last 10 years has started to slow. In fact some areas are particularly worrying. Smoking prevalence amongst young adults (20-24) is 27% and the gender gap between males and females is narrowing with prevalence rates of 20%and 16% respectively, suggesting that more females are smoking.
Knowledge is the power. The more we know about the tobacco industry the more we can do to reduce its burden on Canadians.
PROPEL Centre for Population Health Impact. Tobacco use in Canada: patterns and trends. www.tobaccoreport.ca
Health Canada: about tobacco control. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/about-apropos/index-eng.php
The Truth. The useful cigarette. www.thetruth.com
Physicians for a smoke free Canada. Tobacco in Canada. www.smokefree.ca
Ontario Lung Association. Smoking and tobacco. www.on.lung.ca