May 31, 2011

World No Tobacco Day
Making the global tobacco treaty work is a job for all Canadians

On World No Tobacco Day (May 31st), Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada is urging Canadian families, institutions and governments to work together to improve Canada’s implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The World Health Organization has made the FCTC the theme of World No Tobacco Day 2011.

“The FCTC is a ground-breaking treaty that calls on each of the 173 participating countries to take comprehensive action against the world’s largest preventable cause of death and disease,” said Dr. Atul Kapur, president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. “But the benefits of this treaty will not be realized unless and until governments, communities and individuals all increase their efforts to implement its measures.”

Canadian governments, institutions and families have implemented many of the measures called for in the FCTC, including protection from second-hand smoke at home, work and in public places , curbs on tobacco promotion, support to smokers in their attempts to quit, providing public education, controlling the contents of tobacco products, and increasing the price of cigarettes.  Canadian support for strong and effective measures to control tobacco companies continues to grow.

 “Our progress to date should encourage us to speed up our efforts,” said Dr. Kapur.  “In the past decade, the number of Canadians who smoke has fallen by about one million, and the number who are exposed to second hand smoke in public places, workplaces or homes has fallen as dramatically. Nonetheless, the tobacco industry continues to hold 5 million Canadians captive in a costly and harmful addiction, and uses profits from countries like Canada to expand its reach into developing countries.”

 “We call on federal and provincial governments to engage with communities in the crafting of an ambitious and effective renewed national tobacco strategy that fully implements this treaty,” said Dr. Kapur. “This means that all government departments, not just the health ministries, have obligations to support reductions in tobacco use.” Many of the areas in which Canada has failed to implement the FCTC fall under the jurisdiction of Finance, Agriculture and foreign aid ministries.

PSC also calls on Canadian families and institutions to strengthen public efforts by implementing the treaty’s provisions in their private lives, including by ending their investments in tobacco companies, making their homes smoke-free, encouraging smokers to quit and supporting them in their efforts. “One of the most powerful private actions that a Canadian can take is to demand that their government improve public policy,” said Dr. Kapur. 

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