Quebec - survey finds more teenagers are smoking..

February 10, 2010 - More teenagers in Quebec are turning to smoking – a troubling new development that raises questions about whether the provincial government has gone far enough to curb tobacco use among youth, experts say.

The latest survey on smoking by Statistics Canada shows that in Quebec, one in five teens age 15 to 19 lit up last year – an increase of three per cent from 2008.
The Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey is carried out semi-annually and is based on a survey of more than 9,000 respondents. The latest survey, made public Monday, February 8th was for February to June 2009.

By comparison, the national smoking rate for that age group declined from 15 per cent to 14 per cent.

What’s more, 11 per cent of Quebec children up to the age of 11 said they were exposed to second-hand smoke at home, compared with five per cent for the whole country.

“Something is attracting teenagers to smoking,” said Marc Drolet, a spokesperson for the Quebec division of the Canadian Cancer Society. “There was a downward trend for the past 10 years, and now for some reason, the trend has probably reversed. Unfortunately, we are now the Canadian champions in that (smoking age) category.” Drolet conceded that the government has taken some strong anti-smoking measures to date, like banning it in bars and restaurants. But he urged Quebec to do more to curb subtle marketing campaigns by tobacco companies aimed at youth.

Karine Rivard, press attaché to Health Minister Yves Bolduc, defended the government’s anti-smoking initiatives and said that more were planned for this year. She noted that the government has banned the sale of single cigarillos with grape and other flavours that had been popular with some teens. “The government intends to continue to intensify the fight against tobacco,” Rivard said, although she declined to describe some of the proposed anti-smoking measures.

The survey did contain some good news, however. The prevalence of tobacco use in an older age group of Quebecers – 20 to 24 – dropped to 25 per cent last year from 31 per cent for the corresponding period in 2008.

Smoking is considered the main cause of avoidable cancer in the world, killing more than 5 million people each year. Tobacco use has been linked to 85 per cent of cases of lung cancer and is responsible for 30 per cent of all cancers, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. In Quebec, 7,400 Quebecers received a diagnosis of lung cancer last year and 6,500 died from that illness.

Reference: More Quebec teens are taking up smoking by Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette Health Reporter, 2/8/2010.

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