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Enough Already! The True Cost of a Puff. | Gift Madojemu, MPH

Enough Already! The True Cost of a Puff. | Gift Madojemu, MPH

When it comes to smoking education and cessation exercise, people feel differently. While some people are of the opinion “enough already, everyone knows it’s bad!” However, others may say “It’s my thing! Gone too long to quit now.” “Yeah, I can quit whenever… not now though!” Despite all the sentiments, smoking and chewing tobacco is still a big deal as it concerns health and wellness.

The global society is plagued by a myriad of health issues – smoking, obesity and physical inactivity being some of them. According to an article featured in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, the annual health care cost per person who smokes is $3,071, $1,453 for excess weight and $712 for those who are physically inactive1.

If the economic burden of tobacco use doesn’t make for a compelling case as to why it seems to be on many tables of discussion, then maybe knowing it results in the premature death of more than 37,000 Canadians should2. This is more than deaths caused by car accidents, suicide, AIDS, and murder combined. Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable illness, disability and premature death in Canada3 and the leading cause of preventable death worldwide4. It is also tragic to know that tobacco products are the only known consumer product legally retailed that kills 50% of its long term users when used as intended5,6.

Further, medical and scientific evidence demonstrates that second hand smoke is hazardous to a person’s health as there is no safe level of exposure7. Studies also show that youth and young adults continue to smoke. Health and wellness of everyone in our society should be a collective concern  and for these reason, we can’t say “enough already!”

On a positive spin, tobacco use and smoking rates in Canada are some of the lowest they have ever been8,9 due to continued concerted efforts and the refusal to get complacent in commercial tobacco reduction. We have come a long way in advocating and seeing successful implementation of smoke free public spaces and apartments, a far cry from 10 years ago; yet these successes should not cause us to become silent.

Premised upon research finds on the health risks of smoking –and its second hand adverse effects- there is the need for more conversation on this topic, while continuing to provide needed support to persons struggling to quit this habit.

Approximately 68% of people who smoke want to quit10. This is because the average person who smokes knows it is unhealthy and would like to quit at some point though quitting, having formed a habit, can be challenging.

Similarly, people who stop smoking often return to the habit due to withdrawal symptoms such as stress and weight gain10. We all can support the quit journey by encouraging anyone who might be going through the quitting process not to give up. There are many help resources available such as the Smokers’ Helpline @SmokersHelpline or 1-866-366-3667.

 Let’s keep speaking up! Encourage that friend of yours!! Make that call!!!

You CAN be Tobacco Free – Choose Now!

Article written by Gift Madojemu, MPH Health Coordinator – Truly Alive Youth and Family Foundation Inc


1 Krueger H, Krueger J, Koot J. Variation across Canada in the economic burden attributable to excess weight, tobacco smoking and physical inactivity. Can J Public Health 2015; 106(4):e171-e177

2 Health Canada, 2007. Overview of Health Risks of Smoking.

Health Canada, 2011
World Health Organization 2011

5 World Health Organisation, 2008. WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2008: The MPOWER Package

6US Department of Health and Human Services 2010 and the World Health Organization 2011

US Department of Health and Human Services 2010

8 The, 2015. 15% of Canadians report smoking tobacco, the lowest rate ever: survey Retrieved Feb 16, 2017

9 Statistics Canada, 2016. Smokers by sex, provinces and territories.  Retrieved Feb 16, 2017

10 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and tobacco use. Quitting smoking. February 2017.  Retrieved Feb 16, 2017