It has been illegal to sell cigarettes to those under 16 years of age since 1908. Why are there so many kids still smoking today? This article outlines the steps the government has taken to limit smoking in Canada. Has it gone far enough? Should smoking be illegal?
According to the Lung Association of Canada, almost 20 per cent of Canadian teens (aged 12-19) currently smoke (daily or occasionally). Some tactics that tobacco companies use to target the youth market:
Cartoon character mascots: A U.S. tobacco company introduced the cartoon character Joe Camel, who became widely known by youth between 1988 and 1991. The success of the Joe Camel character was said to be directly responsible for the increase in cigarette sales from $6 million in 1988 to $476 million in 1991.
Promotional offers: Joe Camel ads once offered Joe Camel leather jackets, sandals and neon signs in exchange for coupons from Camel cigarette packages. Youth had to smoke many packs of cigarettes to receive these promotional materials.
Shifting the blame: Tobacco companies try to shift blame to youth who smoke instead of themselves. Tobacco companies suggest that youth have a choice whether to smoke.
Making tobacco look cool: Nearly all of The Simpsons cartoon characters (including children) have been seen smoking. Eighty-seven per cent of the top box office hits between 1988 and 1997 portrayed tobacco use an average of five times per movie.
Showing tobacco use as an “adult” activity: Tobacco companies send the message that smoking is for adults only but that a child can pretend to be grown-up by smoking
Alarming statistics from The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada on smoking and teenagers:
More than 90% of teenagers who smoke as few as 3 to 4 cigarettes a day may be trapped into a lifelong habit of regular smoking, which typically lasts some 35 to 40 years.
Canadians under the age of 19 consume about 1.7 billion cigarettes every year.
Among young women who smoke:
- 26% began smoking before the age of 13
- 83% before age 16
- and almost all before age 18
Smoking contributes to more than 37,000 deaths a year in Canada, of which almost 11,000 are heart disease and stroke-related (29% of all smoking-related deaths are heart disease and stroke-related).
Almost 6,300 non-smokers die each year from exposure to second-hand smoke.
Smoking is responsible for 14.54% of all heart disease and stroke deaths.
If current rates of tobacco use continue, approximately 1 million Canadians will die over the next 20 years as a direct result of smoking and second-hand smoke.
As soon as an individual quits smoking, the risk of heart disease and stroke begins to decrease.
- Within one year of quitting, the risk of dying from smoking-related heart disease is cut in half.
- Within 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
- After 15 years, the risk of dying will be nearly that of a non-smoker.
More than 50% of former smokers report they are able to become smoke-free after one or two serious attempts
The percentage of people who remain smoke-free after one year of quitting ranges from 5% to 18%
There is a new, cheap brand of cigarettes coming to a boutique near you. They are being marketed as a young, hip alternative to the more sophisticated brands. They are hand-made by women in India, for a whopping $1.00 per day. Most of these women end up with bronchial asthma and permanent disabilities from using the same muscles over and over again from 6AM to 7PM. This is promoted as the best way for women to support their families, but, as the company gets rich, nothing is being done to better the working conditions of the job or fix the pay inequities. Listen to more about this new tobacco product here under Bidi’s deadly hold on India, Rick’s conversation with Murali