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A Conversation
on Prevention

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, May 17th, 2013

New government brings new opportunities to work together on cancer prevention

On May 14th British Columbians went to the polls to elect a new government. Elections represent change with a promise of hope for a better tomorrow, much like the Canadian Cancer Society’s endless fight to create a healthier future for our province where no British Columbian fears cancer.  With the support of thousands of British Columbians and our amazing team of dedicated volunteers, the Society was able to speak-out loudly, raise our voices as one and help make cancer prevention an election issue. Read more


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Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, May 10th, 2013

Cancer prevention works – time for a new health care paradigm

By Ted Bruce, past-president of the Public Health Association of British Columbia (PHABC), a voluntary, non-profit, non-government organization whose mission is to preserve and promote the public’s health. PHABC shares the Society’s concern for the need to increase investment in chronic disease prevention.

The cancer community has done a remarkable job of documenting the importance of prevention. They estimate that 50% of cancers are preventable and have an active campaign to encourage provincial government action on prevention. Learn more via the Canadian Cancer Society’s (BC & Yukon) Cancer Gameplan Election website.

Think about that number: 50%. Compare it to the 3% of health care we devote to public health preventive efforts.

The cancer community’s understanding and commitment to prevention is likely influenced by the remarkable story around tobacco reduction. A public health approach to tobacco reduction is a model that we can use to tackle a range of deadly and costly chronic diseases. But it comes at a price. The victories in the battle against smoking related diseases did not solely come from anti-smoking awareness and public education campaigns. In fact the amount of funding available for these types of campaigns is almost laughable compared to what industry spends marketing what we know are unhealthy products – a great deal of this marketing aimed a kids. Although we have seen prohibitions on advertising cigarettes in Canada, the food industry provides an example of the marketing battleground. The Ontario Healthy Kids Panel report No Time to Wait was unable to calculate the actual expenditure on food advertising aimed at children but they quote one study showing that “ four food ads per hour were shown during children’s peak television viewing times and six food ads per hour were shown during non-peak times. Approximately 83 per cent of those ads were for “non-core” foods and 24 per cent of food ads were for fast food restaurants.”[1]

The Prevention Institute, a non-profit organization in the US, quoting a Federal Trade Commission Report states that the fast food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children. A full fact sheet on marketing foods and beverages to children is available on their website.

The tobacco battle has shown us that effective prevention programming incorporates a variety of strategies including taxation to affect price, marketing regulations, enforcement and efforts to change the environment to deter consumption. The National Collaborating Centre on Healthy Public Policy has an informative interactive timeline that is worth a look to see the long and hard fought battle over tobacco.

It is most important to understand, however, that tobacco reduction efforts required human resources for leadership, advocacy, policy development,  program development and program delivery. And there are just not enough of these resources available in the public health system to do the job for the chronic disease epidemic we are facing.

Is the battle against smoking related disease and death over? Not by a long shot. Smoking rates may have come down but we know they can go lower. And sadly in some populations smoking rates are still at very high levels with estimates that some groups smoke at 2 to 3 times the overall rate. Learn more through Health Canada’s Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey.

We need to shift our thinking to support the cancer community’s prevention efforts. And we need to realize that cancer prevention is about more than tobacco. Chemicals in our environment, sedentary behaviour and poor diets are contributors to cancer. The time is overdue for a comprehensive prevention effort. Our political leaders need to have a vision for the future. Why is it good enough to prevent children being exposed to tobacco yet we tolerate an “in your face” obesity promoting environment for children. It is time to dream big and to put in place the human resources we need to realize that dream. We can all take a lesson from the efforts to prevent cancer. We need to shift to a new health and health care paradigm built on prevention.


[1] Kelly B, Halford JCG, Boyland E, Chapman K, Bautista-Castaño I, Berg C, et al. (2010). Television food advertising to children: A global perspective. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(9):1730-5

Click here to learn more about PHABC’s provincial election advocacy.

Authorized by the Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon, registered sponsor under the Election Act, 604-872-4400.


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Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, May 10th, 2013

Exercising your right to vote can reduce your risk of cancer

Many of us know that exercising to maintain a healthy body weight is one of the key ways we can reduce our risk of cancer. But did you ever consider that exercising your right to vote could reduce your risk of cancer? Read More


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Advocacy, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, April 10th, 2013

Let’s keep the momentum going

by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer

It’s great to see the BC Government has taken steps to tackle tobacco. The BC Smoking Cessation Program offers free 24/7 help to those who want to quit through QuitNow.ca and Quit Now by Phone.

This is a great start to helping an estimated 70% of smokers who wish to quit – not to mention that it reduces second-hand smoke for those who don’t smoke. Let’s keep the momentum going by making sure we have smoke-free outdoor places across the province.

Why are we asking for smoke-free outdoor places?

1. Tobacco is a major health issue that needs the attention of our provincial leaders. In Canada, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death – 37,000 Canadians die every year of tobacco related illnesses – including cancer.

2. Second-hand smoke is extremely toxic. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals including at least 50 known cancer-causing substances.  In an outdoor setting, second-hand smoke is a hazard. In fact, being within a few feet of a smoker outdoors may expose you to air pollution levels comparable to homes and bars that allow smoking.

Banning smoking in parks, playgrounds, patios and beaches is a sound public health policy that can increase motivation for smokers to quit or cut back, decrease unhealthy role modelling for children and youth and de-normalize smoking behaviour. What a great way for the BC Government to invest in cancer prevention.

All British Columbians should be protected from second-hand smoke. Strong province-wide legislation would give British Columbians access to smoke-free outdoor public places, especially the parks and playgrounds where children play.

Do your part by living smoke-free and avoiding second-hand smoke. Let’s enjoy our beaches, parks, patios, playgrounds, without the worry of second-hand smoke. With your help we can enjoy healthier communities.

Ready to get started? Contact your MLA today and voice your concerns. Find out what they’re doing to help ban smoking in public places. Learn more at cancergameplan.ca

If you’re ready to quit smoking, download our One Step at a Time guide.

For more quit smoking resources, visit cancer.ca.


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Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, March 26th, 2013

Email your MLA Day

by Susan Zhang, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer and SFU student

 

It’s Email Your MLA Day and we’re asking everyone to take a moment to let their MLA know about the issues that are important to them. It’s a reason, an extra push, to encourage everyone to get involved in a quick, easy and meaningful way.

Cancer prevention is our election priority and it’s time to get our MLAs thinking about it.

You can make a great impact on your community. Email your MLA to do your part in supporting outdoor smoke-free places and strong cosmetic pesticide legislation, two solid steps towards cancer prevention.

Why now? Well, this week is our 75th anniversary and we’ll be celebrating our fight against cancer. What better way to celebrate than to continue the fight by advocating to your MLA about cancer prevention. Reach out and get involved this election season. Add your voice to the fight.

It’s easy to find your MLA and his or her contact information, just click here!

Click here to send a message to all parties in support of the Society’s election priorities.


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Advocacy, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, March 12th, 2013

Catching Big Smoke-Free Air in Whistler

by Susan Zhang, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer and SFU student.

There’s a lot to love about Whistler – amazing skiing and snowboarding, a beautiful village, scenic views, and the fact that many of Whistler’s outdoor public areas are smoke-free.

 

Whistler is a model community because of its smoking regulations that prohibit smoking near playgrounds, transit shelters and school property. For children and youth, this decreases unhealthy role modelling and de-normalizes smoking behaviour. As most smokers start before the age of 18, this can help to lower the number of people who pick up the habit in the future.

The bylaw, adopted in 2008, also prohibits smoking near sporting events, playing fields and other recreational areas. Patios of restaurants and bars are included in this ban too. Providing smoke-free outdoor public places decreases exposure to harmful second-hand smoke for everyone in the community. For Whistler businesses, to date there is no evidence of long-term negative impact on the tourism sector, including restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

So what about the rest of British Columbia? Currently, the province stipulates that there must be a smoke-free “buffer zone” of three metres around doorways, open windows, and air intakes. Otherwise, rules vary from municipality to municipality, as each is free to set their own bylaws.

Following the example of Whistler, the Canadian Cancer Society is asking for all political parties to support legislation for smoke-free outdoor public places across BC. This election, we hope to get the word out about the importance of making restaurant and bar patios, parks, beaches and playgrounds smoke-free places. Help us advocate for healthier communities – email BC’s party leaders to show your support.


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Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, February 27th, 2013

Cancer Prevention: Our Focus this Election

The election buzz is growing with less than three months before British Columbians go to the polls.   

One issue affects nearly every voter in British Columbia— and that’s cancer. We’ve all been touched in one way or another. Two in five Canadians are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and that’s why it makes sense to bring attention to policies that would help to ease the burden of cancer in our lives. 

At the Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon we believe that cancer prevention should be an election priority for BC’s political parties. About half of all cancers can be prevented and if we can start to chip away at this big number, then we can make BC an even better and healthier place to be. 

One way to prevent cancer is to encourage people to change their behavior through education. We’ve all seen and heard healthy reminders to get regular exercise, eat plenty of veggies and steer clear of tobacco. Just changing one thing in a person’s lifestyle can have an important impact on his or her health. At the Society we recognize that we can take cancer prevention a step further through healthy policies that reduce the risk of cancer for an entire population. What a big impact that can make! 

 

Megan Sidhu is a Canadian Cancer Society volunteer from Surrey. This provincial election she is advocating for an investment in cancer prevention.  

Leading up to election day, we’ll be asking all political parties to support an investment in cancer prevention by reducing our exposure to harmful substances that are linked to cancer, namely cosmetic pesticides and second-hand smoke. 

We’d like to see strong cosmetic pesticide legislation that bans the use of pesticides for non-essential purposes, like the beautification of lawns and gardens. We know that we can still keep lawns and gardens beautiful using safe alternatives so it only makes sense to reduce our exposure to pesticides where we know they aren’t necessary.

Smoking regulations have come a long way in BC and we can keep the momentum going by advocating for smoke-free outdoor places which would allow everyone, especially children, to enjoy outdoor public places (patios, parks, beaces, and playgrounds) without facing the risks of second-hand smoke. It can also go a long way to help smokers quit and to provide fewer opportunities for would-be smokers to pick up the habit.  

This provincial election is a chance for us to show the BC Government that cancer touches us all and that we can do more to stop cancer before it starts. 

Leading up to May 14, the Society and our many volunteers, including Megan, will reach out to our communities and political parties, encouraging everyone to make cancer prevention an issue. Visit cancergameplan.ca to get involved and to learn more about our provincial election priorities.


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Advocacy, National Non-Smoking Week, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, February 18th, 2013

A Surrey Citizen’s Call to Action: Continue to support outdoor smoke-free places

For this year’s National Non-Smoking Week, the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon, called on the B.C. government and all political parties to support smoke-free public outdoor spaces, including parks, beaches, playgrounds and patios of restaurants, pubs and bars.

Tobacco use remains the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in BC, killing more than 6,000 British Columbians each year and second-hand smoke is linked to the death of up to 140 British Columbians each year. These are staggering numbers and have moved many British Columbians to action.

Amber Bolu, a Society volunteer and resident of Surrey, BC, wrote to the Surrey News Leader in a letter entitled Continue toward a smoke-free outdoors:

 “As a resident of Surrey, a city which has surpassed the province’s smoking restrictions, residents should know firsthand the benefits and the importance of smoke-free outdoor public spaces.”

During National Non-Smoking Week, diverse views were shared. Some feel that outdoor smoke-free provincial regulations would be going too far; however, the vast majority view smoking regulations as an important measure in the protection of public health and a means to eliminate involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke, a known carcinogen.

An important debate has been raised and moving beyond National Non-Smoking Week, Amber encourages British Columbian’s to continue to keep this issue top of mind:

 “National Non-Smoking Week has passed, but we should continue to keep the importance of smoke-free outdoor spaces in our minds. As the City of Surrey is a leader in smoking restrictions, my hope is to inspire residents to encourage their MLA, and the B.C. health minister, to follow the lead of 30 B.C. municipalities and four other provinces, and keep B.C. beautiful and smoke-free.”

This year’s provincial election is an opportunity for British Columbians to continue to show their support for smoke-free outdoor places. To find out more, visit cancergameplan.ca.  

 


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Advocacy, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, February 13th, 2013

Break up on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is about taking time for your special relationships. But maybe it’s also time to re-evaluate the toxic relationships in our lives.  

Dear cigarette,

It’s not me, it’s you. Let’s be honest with ourselves, this relationship is a dead end.

Things started off well, like most relationships do. I was young and naïve and you seemed so cool and sophisticated. You made me feel special. I saw you whenever I could. I spent my money on you. I was loyal to you — even if it meant uncomfortable conversations with my doctor.

Slowly but surely, I started to feel your effects. You made me feel exhausted. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about– we have an unhealthy relationship.

It’s time to put myself first. It might not be easy at first. I might catch myself in silent moments hoping for your companionship, but I am sure that I’ll be better off without you. 

Let’s call it quits. I’ll be better off without you.

 

This spring, the Society is asking all political parties in BC to break up with second-hand smoke in outdoor public places  (patios, parks, beaches and playgrounds). Let your MLA know that you support smoke-free outdoor places that everyone, especially children, can enjoy without being exposed to harmful second-hand smoke. To find out more, visit: cancergameplan.ca

Photo: Rose


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