Smoking kills over 13,000 Ontarians every year. It is the number one cause of preventable death and disease, according to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
The act, which was created in May 2006, indicates that young adults more than any other age group use tobacco.
However, young adult smokers have a better chance of quitting.
“Their smoking career is shorter and their smoking behaviour is different,” said Lindsay Taylor, Assistant Manager of Leave The Pack Behind.
Young adults aged 18 to 29 are not smoking as heavily compared to other age groups and fewer are addicted, said Taylor.
In Ontario, numerous health policy efforts have been implemented to combat tobacco consumption.
Policies such as smoking in public places and tobacco displays in stores were changed in the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to keep youth safe from tobacco’s health effects.
The next step to reduce tobacco consumption is Bill 131, the Youth Smoking Prevention Act. It was introduced in November 2013 to amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act that has been static since 2006.
“It has not been passed yet but further legislation is needed,” said Taylor. If passed, the bill will prohibit the sale of flavoured tobacco products.
Smoking on school campuses is yet other issue where policy has been static.
Young adults are vulnerable to smoking, especially on school campuses.
Not only is it a physical exposure but a social exposure as well,” said Robert Schwartz, Executive Director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit. “Peer smoking on campus makes young adults vulnerable.”
For Humber, the first step would be to create designated smoking areas and then eventually make the campus 100 per cent smoke free, said Taylor.
Finding ways to help students live tobacco-free is what the wouldurather… program, hosted by the Leave the Pack Behind (LTPB), aims to achieve.
LTPB program offers students three different ways to change their smoking. Daily smokers can quit for good or can cut their smoking in half. Social smokers can refrain from smoking when drinking alcohol. Ex-smokers and non-smokers can also pledge to remain smoke-free.
Students who want to quit can receive support from the nicotine replacement therapy, which includes eight weeks of free nicotine patches and gum, said Petra Alexis, registered nurse at Humber North.
“Eight weeks is the amount of time that it takes to have those supports to be able to loose your cravings and be able to stay smoke free without it,” said Alexis.
LTPB is available to over 600,000 students. Representing 155,000 smokers. For more information visit www.leavethepackbehind.org.