ROGER SAUVÉ – Life Trends – Facts And Figures That Matter To You – Region has more smokers than almost anywhere in Ontario
Smoking kills! That is the message that Canadians have been hearing for at least two decades. Are you listening? Are you doing anything about it?
The incidence of smoking in this region is not good. Compared to the rest of Ontario … it is awful.
Detailed health statistics are available from Statistics Canada for the region covered by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) and 35 other health units across Ontario. The EOHU comprises SD&G plus Prescott-Russell. About 190,000 people in the region.
According to the latest 2008 readings, 24% of all residents aged 12 and over in the EOHU smoke on a daily basis. Only four of the 36 health units in Ontario have a higher percentage of smokers than in the EOHU. The rate of smoking varies very little between males and females. “Only” 16% of all Ontario residents aged 12 and over smoke on a daily.
One-third of persons in the EOHU aged 20-34 and 35-44 smoke on a daily basis, one-quarter of those aged 45-64 smoke on a daily basis while a much smaller 14% of those aged 65 and over smoke.
The EOHU population has a high percentage of smokers, but even worse, it has the highest percentage (13%) of residents among all the 36 health units who are exposed to second hand smoke in the home. This is partly due to the fact that local residents are also the most reluctant among all the health units to tell people to butt out in the home.
The EOHU website clearly warns about the dangers of smoking, “Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and pulmonary disease while also putting you at extra risk for colds and the flu, ulcers, osteoporosis and many other illnesses. Your smoking doesn’t just affect you. Everyone around you breathes your second-hand smoke, which puts them at risk for cancer and other diseases.” The message could not be clearer.
Are these warnings just meant to scare you or do they represent reality? I looked at the numbers. Residents of the EOHU region are 30% more likely to die of lung cancer and 20% more likely to die of diseases of the heart than the Ontario average. In addition, we are 36% more likely to have asthma than the Ontario average. Not all of this can be blamed on smoking, but a lot of it can.
You can help reduce these diseases. Quit smoking. Don’t let others inhale your smoke. And do let people know that they are not allowed to smoke inside your home. I am not preaching … I am just saying the obvious.
Of course, quitting smoking isn’t easy. Many have tried and failed. But more have tried and succeeded. I know someone who tried to quit smoking four times before succeeding. Your own life, and the life of those around you, is worth the effort. Staff at the EOHU can help you to quit smoking.
More on health in the next column.
Roger Sauvé is President of People Patterns Consulting . Roger is an economist and demographer and lives in Summerstown