Providing Leadership in Tobacco Reduction

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JUNE 12, 2017

To The Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

First of all, on behalf of the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA) I want to commend you for bringing forward the issue of smoking on patios. A quick look around us tells us that there are now seven provinces and territories (AB, ON, QC, NB, NS, NL and Yukon) and at least 36 municipalities that have adopted laws to prohibit smoking on outdoor patios of bars and restaurants. This is a remarkable achievement and the City of Winnipeg needs to give serious consideration to adding its name to that list. There are many reasons why this should happen, but for want of time, I will give you three that I consider to be the three most important.

Since we started consistently tracking smoking rates in Canada and by province, we have seen smoking rates in Manitoba go from a high of 28% at the beginning of 2001 to our latest report in 2015 at 14.8%. If ever there was a reason to allow smoking on patios it just got cut in half. This is not about the right to smoke on a patio. It does not exist. This is about protection so I believe I have come to the right Committee. It is first and foremost about protecting the health of non-smokers as witnessed to by provincial legislation titled The Non-Smokers Health Protection Act.

There is no safe level of second hand smoke. Our record of protecting people from second hand smoke in past was not good. The Cancer Risk Profiles for the Largest Metropolitan Areas Across Canada (2010-2011) reported that Winnipeg ranked 20 out of 26 for the highest exposure to second-hand smoke in public places amongst those 12 yrs. and older. Remember that this was six to seven years after we banned smoking in indoor public places.

Two researchers, Geoffrey Fong and Ryan Kennedy from the University of Waterloo, measured Tobacco Smoke Pollutants in Outdoor Patios in City of Ottawa in 2010. It involved 2 smoke free patios and 10 smoking patios attached to restaurants, pub/bars, and coffee shops. They measured fine particulate matter (2.5 micrometers – most dangerous – go deep into lungs – made up of hundreds of different chemicals). The established standard is that they shouldn’t exceed 12 micrograms per cubic meter. Keep in mind that cigarette smoke has over 4,000 chemicals 70 of which are known to be carcinogens). What did the Ottawa study find?

On a Smoke-free patio: Average concentration less than 10 micrograms. Peak concentration less than 10.

Adjacent to 2 smokers (8 min.): Average: 79 micrograms Peak concentration more than 700. Have you ever heard people say, “What about all the other pollution?”

Beside a busy street rush hour: Average: less than 10 micrograms. Peak concentration 20. Do you think the public’s health needs to be protected from smoking on patios? We believe it does.

Secondly, we need to talk about Prevention. In my 15 years of working with MANTRA and having talked to several hundred adults (both smokers and non-smokers), I have yet to meet one parent who has said, “I think it would be a really great thing if my son or daughter would take up smoking”. Sadly, what I have heard are parents who are smoking and saying, you should talk to the kids. Smoking is not a problem that belongs to the kids. It’s an adult problem. Kids don’t manufacture the cigarettes; kids don’t market the tobacco products; Kids don’t provide the environments where smoking is seen as the norm; Kids don’t make the decisions about who can smoke and where they will smoke. We do as adults.

I’m happy to be able to tell you that our smoking rate among 15-19 year olds in Manitoba is at 12.7%. Fifteen years ago it was at 23%. I also have to tell you that I am concerned. I am concerned by the increasing number of young people who are vaping products with nicotine and in some cases with marijuana. I am also concerned about upcoming legislation to legalize marijuana and what the will mean to re-normalizing smoking amongst young people.

We are here today to say we need your help. We need your help to ensure that we never again provide the kind of environments where young people see smoking in any form as the norm. Young adults age 20-24 have the highest smoking rates in Manitoba and also are amongst those often seen at restaurant and bar patios. Smoking amongst those 16-19 is at its lowest amongst those at age 16 at 5.5% and rises to 16.7 by age 19 – more than triples in those three years…and keeps on going up till it reaches its highest level of about 20% in 20-24 year olds. I am appealing to you to help put to rest this notion that smoking is integral to enjoying an evening out on a restaurant or bar patio. I am asking you to help prevent what we see happening amongst older teens and young adults. You can help by banning smoking on patios.

Finally, I want to talk briefly to you about cessation. Do you know that if we can get those who are smoking to stop by the time they are 30 the vast majority of them would not see the devastating array of diseases that occur to those who continue smoking beyond that point? Do you know that about 70% of those who smoke would like to quit? There are three reasons why they find it so difficult: physical addiction to nicotine, psychological-behavioural, social environments that are not supportive of their desire to quit. This is where you come in – you can help change those environments. What are we doing about smoking cessation? The Canadian Cancer Society who is here today – operates the Smokers Helpline and the Run to Quit program. The Lung Association –operates Manitoba Quits and offers support materials like Journey to Quit. MANTRA has been busy training health professionals to help people quit. In the last two years we trained over 45 facilitators and more than 100 health professional in three health regions, and we will be carrying on with this for the next year. We are in the final year of a three year project with the University of Manitoba and Cancer Care MB that will increase smoking cessation capacity amongst health professionals. We, collectively, can and are doing our part and now we are counting on you to do yours.

Will it actually help people to quit? Woodstock Ontario passed a by-law that prevented smoking on patios of restaurants, patios of bars and pubs and also included City Parks. They surveyed members of the smoking public before the by-law and after. 53.4% were in favor of banning smoking on patios of bars and pubs before the by-law and it jumped to 75.3% after the by-law. 69.8% were in favor of banning smoking on restaurant patios before the by-law which jumped to 81.6% after the by-law. 66.5% were in favor of banning smoking in public parks before the by-law and it jumped to 84.15 after the by-law. Did it help those who were smoking to quit? 33% of those who smoked and were surveyed after the by-law said that it had helped them to cut down the number of cigarettes they smoked. 30 of those who smoked before the bylaw had quit after the by-law and 47% of that number said it helped them to remain quit.

As I looked over the role of this Committee, I noticed that it has a responsibility for public health. I encourage you to do something today that will protect people from second hand smoke, prevent young people and young adults from seeing smoking as part of their social life, and helping those who are smoking to quit. Your decision has the potential to greatly benefit public health in Manitoba.

Thank You,

Murray Gibson

Executive Director MANTRA





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