Nearly 400,000 Quebecers live with a serious smoking-related illness

On this first day of the Week for a Tobacco-Free Quebec, the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health (CQTS) would like to remind you that, like the pandemic, smoking remains a major public health issue in Quebec. Indeed, although COVID-19 is a major issue, we must not lose sight of the fact that, on average, more people die every day from smoking than from COVID-19 worldwide.

The Week for a Tobacco-Free Quebec this year gives voice to the victims of tobacco use and wishes to demonstrate the devastating effects of tobacco on the health of smokers and on the lives of their loved ones, who are inevitably affected. As with all people affected by the very real consequences of smoking, these dramatic stories could have been avoided.

1.1 million Quebecers still smoke

“Smoking is still too prevalent in Quebec and continues to wreak havoc,” says Annie Papageorgiou, Executive Director of the CQTS. Nearly 400,000 Quebecers live with a serious tobacco-related illness and 13,000 people die each year from tobacco, which is equivalent to more than 35 deaths per day. This is a reality that should not exist and unfortunately, COVID-19 has not helped this scourge in any way.

During the pandemic, nearly one in two smokers aged 18 to 24 increased their tobacco consumption. In the three discussion groups that served to guide the realization of the campaign, participants stated that stress, boredom and loneliness had a negative influence on their smoking habits. These are hypotheses, but this could explain the increase in tobacco consumption in the pandemic context,” she concludes.

This information alone confirms the usefulness of this awareness campaign, especially when we know that smokers are more at risk of being hospitalized if they are infected with COVID-19 than non-smokers, and more risk of dying. For Annie Papageorgiou, “with everything we know today, we cannot be passive witnesses to this silent pandemic”.

Alarming figures

“Tobacco causes 16 types of cancer and 21 chronic diseases. The observation is clear; when you smoke, you increase your risk of living with a disease that limits your daily activities throughout your life, which shortens the number of years of healthy life and which is likely to cause death”, specifies Dr. Alain Poirier, director of public health at the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS.

Cancers are often the figurehead of the consequences of smoking, but a large number of smokers and non-smokers suffer from various very serious health conditions, which materialize long before death, such as:

● Strokes;

● Loss of sight;

● Aneurysms;

● Diabetes;

● Erectile dysfunction;

● Infertility.

Concretely, smokers are:

● 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than

non smokers;

● 4 times more at risk of having a stroke;

● 3 times more likely to die from heart disease or suffer from

macular degeneration;

● and more at risk of developing diabetes and several chronic lung diseases.

“Whether it’s parents, friends, a spouse or your child, one in two smokers dies from smoking and half of these deaths are people between the ages of 35 and 69,” adds Dr. Poirier. Fortunately, there is hope; quitting smoking reduces the risk of dying from a smoking-related disease and saves up to 10 years of life. This is by far the best decision to make for your health and that of your loved ones. »

Actor, writer and ultramarathoner Patrice Godin is spokesperson for the Week for a Tobacco-Free Quebec for a third year. “I smoked for 25 years and quit 14 years ago. When you start, you don’t think about the consequences to come. I was young and thought I was invincible, but like all smokers, I had to deal with the negative effects of smoking on my health. Over time, smoking has had a negative impact on many aspects of my life and that of my loved ones. I was afraid of having a heart attack, dying and not seeing my daughters grow up. Quitting smoking was not easy and I had to try several times before I finally got there, but I succeeded and I am convinced that others can do it”, he mentions.

“Let’s take advantage of the Week for a Tobacco-Free Quebec to discuss smoking with our loved ones, help smokers around us to quit or even educate young people about the importance of not starting to smoke. It can make all the difference. adds Patrice Godin in conclusion.

Resources to help you quit smoking

The CQTS invites people who want to quit smoking to consult the J’ARRÊTE services, which are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year! QUIT services offer:

● confidential, free assistance whose effectiveness has been proven for Quebecers who wish to quit smoking; just on the J’ARRÊTE site, there are more than 10,000 new registrations each year;

● online help ( /, help by phone

(1 866 JARRETE (1 866 527-7383)), in-person help at quit smoking centers in Quebec or help by text message.

About the week

Coordinated by the CQTS, the Week for a Tobacco-Free Quebec is made possible thanks to the financial support of the Ministry of Health and Social Services and with the indispensable support of several hundred partners throughout Quebec.

About the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health

A tobacco-free Quebec. This is the bold vision of the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health (CQTS). Since 1976, we have come a long way and will continue to pave the way by mobilizing and bringing together stakeholders from various backgrounds to eradicate the leading cause of preventable death in Quebec, smoking. We are also more committed than ever to preventing the use of cannabis and vaping products among young people.

Building on our historic victory against Canadian tobacco companies in the CQTS-Blais class action lawsuit for Quebec tobacco victims, we are hungry for more. The health and well-being of the people of Quebec rigorously guide our societal campaigns and our prevention, awareness and cessation programs. We are honored to be able to contribute to the adoption of healthy changes for our society and we make it our duty to carry out this mission with diligence and kindness.

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