Advocates for a smoke-free British Columbia

Tobacco statistics

The evidence is indisputable about the dangerous health effects of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke. Cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke are serious public health hazards, known to cause lung disease, heart disease, cancer, respiratory illnesses and a host of other serious conditions, even in non-smokers exposed to the smoke. In Canada, tobacco use is the leading causes of preventable death and exposure to second-hand smoke kills more than 1,000 non-smokers every year.
  • Health effects

    Quick Facts
    There is consensus among the international scientific community that second-hand smoke is a hazardous carcinogen and all involuntary exposure should be eliminated in workplaces, public places and in the home.

    The scientific evidence is now indisputable: second-hand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and non-smoking adults. There is NO safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.

    Second-hand smoke…

    Releases thousands of toxic chemicals into the air, over 50 of which are known to cause cancer, including: benzene, formaldehyde, cadmium and lead.

    In Adults…

    Exposure to second-hand smoke causes lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory symptoms, and asthma induction and exacerbation.

    Research also indicates a strong association between second-hand smoke and breast cancer, cervical cancer, stroke, and miscarriage.

    Breathing second-hand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects, causing physical reactions linked to heart and stroke disease.

    In Children…

    Second-hand smoke is even more harmful to children because their lungs are still developing and more easily damaged. Exposure has been proven to cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), fetal growth impairment, chronic respiratory symptoms, bronchitis, pneumonia, middle ear infections, asthma attacks and allergies.

    Research also indicates exposure is associated with decreased lung function, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, brain cancer and lymphomas and impairment of a child’s ability to learn.

    Source: Report of the US Surgeon General

  • Smokers in BC

    Quick Facts
    • In 2013, 11.4% of British Columbians aged 15+ reported being a current smoker. This translates to approximately 525,000 smokers in BC as of 2013.
    • The smoking rate of 11.4% of the BC population has decreased from 13.2% in 2012 and 14.2% in 2011.
    • At 11.4%, the smoking rate in BC is the lowest in Canada (national average 14.6%) followed by Ontario (12.6%), Alberta (16%), and Quebec (17.1%). CTUMS Source
    • 67% of British Columbia smokers would like to quit. Source
    • 82% of British Columbia smokers believe that smoking is extremely dangerous to their health. Source
    • 61% of British Columbia smokers believe that their smoking is dangerous to others around them. Source
    • Men generally have a higher smoking rate than women. In 2013 in BC, 13.5% of the male population and 9.4% of the female population were smokers. Compared to 2012, both genders experienced decreases in smoking rates from 15.2% and 11.3%, respectively.
    • The average number of cigarettes smoked per day by a male smoker in BC has increased to 14.8 (2013) from 13.9 (2012).
    • The average number of cigarettes smoked per day by a female smoker in BC has decreased to 11 (2013) from 11.5 (2012).

    Source: CTUMS

    • Tobacco-related illness is the leading cause of preventable death in BC.  Approximately 6,000 British Columbians die each year from tobacco related illnesses, either caused by direct tobacco use and/or exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Source
    • Lung cancer caused by smoking has passed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in rich countries. Source
    • Quitting by middle age can avoid 60% of the risk of dying of lung cancer. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%. Source
    • Medical conditions attributable to tobacco were the primary contributor to substance related hospitalizations in BC in 2011, followed by alcohol and illicit drugs. There were 28,206 tobacco-related, 21,542 alcohol-related and 4,326 drug-related hospitalizations across BC in 2011. Source
    • It is estimated that smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths and is related to more than 85% of all lung cancer cases. Source
    • Long-term exposure to second-hand smoke is associated with a 20-30% increased risk of developing lung cancer in non-smokers. It is also believed second-hand smoke may cause three times as many deaths as a result of other cancers (e.g. nasal sinus cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer) than due to lung cancer. Source
    • Tobacco use is estimated to cost the British Columbian economy over $2.3 billion each year, including health care costs from treating tobacco-related illnesses, increased sick time and lower productivity. Source
    • Nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug, is found in tobacco products. Although nicotine in and of itself does not cause many of the diseases associated with smoking and other tobacco use, the nicotine will itself lead to an addiction to tobacco.
    • When smoking, a typical smoker takes 10 puffs on a cigarette. A pack-a-day smoker thus typically has 200 hits of nicotine a day.
    • Tobacco smoke contains an estimated 4,000 compounds, with about 250 chemicals that are known to be toxic or carcinogenic, including tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and benzene.(National Toxicology Program)