Sixteen adolescents engaged in the fight against smoking issue a heartfelt appeal (Opinion Letter by the 16 members of the Youth Coalition Against Smoking Advisory Network May 2011)

May 30, 2011, 12:32 am

Why have young people aged 13 to 17 from all regions of Quebec come together to form the Youth Coalition Against Smoking Advisory Network in order to fight smoking by their peers?

Because smoking is a serious public health problem, and because we’ve got a long ways to go to bring about change! The facts speak for themselves: Every week, an average of 650 young people take up smoking. Their average age? A mere 12.7 years old! What’s more, some 22% of high school students consume tobacco products, for a total of 100,331 smokers under the age of 18. Indeed, some 71% of adults who smoke daily also began smoking before the age of 18, and one in two will die from it. Worse yet, with regular exposure to household smoke some 15% of children aged 0 to 17 smoke in spite of themselves. And the same is true – only worse! – for smoking in vehicles: Some 39% of smokers light up with their children in the car, giving the kids no choice but to breathe in the roughly 4,000 poison chemicals released when a person smokes.

But that’s not all, unfortunately. In their considerable efforts to recruit new smokers, the tobacco industry is waving new and attractive packages under our noses, not to mention cigarillos (which now come in much larger – and perfectly legal – sizes) with the same fruity taste to go along with the poisonous effects. If we fail to act now and act emphatically, we – today’s youth as well as our children’s generation – will be the one who pay the ever-rising social price for smoking.

And that’s why the 16 teens who make up the Youth coalition Against Smoking Advisory Network share the same ironclad belief in a world without smoke. On May 31, 2011, therefore, the day the World Health Organization has designated World No-Tobacco Day, we ask you to take the time to remind yourselves that smoking kills one in ten adults worldwide, and that right here in Quebec it’s the leading cause of avoidable death; may we also suggest that you ask yourselves what you can do to change the situation in your family or among your friends.

Carolanne Lévesque, 16 ans (Bas–Saint-Laurent) — Alexandre Tremblay, 16 ans (Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean — Marie-Ève Daigle, 15 ans (Capitale-Nationale) — Antoine-Lysaught-Nantel, 15 ans (Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec) — Amélie Langlois, 14 ans (Estrie) — Rosalie Mailhot, 14 ans (Montréal) — Claudia Knight, 16 ans (Outaouais) — Sophie Lecompte-Ouellette, 14 ans (Abitibi-Témiscamingue) — Kézanne Imbeault, 17 ans (Côte-Nord) — Maxime Gauthier-Dubuc, 17 ans (Nord-du-Québec) — Marie-Lou Denis, 16 ans (Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine) — Rachel Lestage, 14 ans (Chaudière-Appalaches) — Mélisa Girardeau, 14 ans (Laval) — Judy Saint-Pierre, 15 ans (Lanaudière) — Jeanne Raymond-Valiquette, 15 ans (Laurentides) et Lauralie Bourdages, 15 ans (Montérégie)


Current situation
* Every year since 1987, the World Health Organization has designated May 31 “World No-Tobacco Day” to promote worldwide awareness of the smoking epidemic and its fatal effects.
* On a worldwide scale, one in ten deaths among adults is caused by smoking, making it the second leading cause of death in the world.
* In 2011 alone, more than five million people will die of complications caused by smoking-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and pulmonary disease.
* More than 600,000 deaths – including more than one quarter of deaths among children – are attributable to passive smoking.
* Smoking is the largest avoidable epidemic facing humanity.

The focus for 2011
* The focus of the 2011 World No-Tobacco Day is the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The first global instrument in the fight against smoking, it lends a new legal dimension to international cooperation in the area of health.
* Negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization, this Framework Convention – the first treaty of its kind – has 172 signatories, making it one of the most widely-embraced treaties in the history of the United Nations.
* The chief message of the 2011 World No-Toboacco Day: Countries must fully implement the treaty to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
* Smoking caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century; according to the WHO, that figure could reach more than one billion in the 21st century.
* The above-mentioned treaty has already proven its effectiveness in the fight against smoking.
* During the 2011 World No-Tobacco Day and throughout the next year, the WHO will deploy all possible efforts to encourage countries to place the treaty at the heart of their efforts to fight the worldwide smoking epidemic.
* By responding to the WHO’s call for support, countries will bolster their ability to considerably reduce smoking-related morbidity and mortality rates, in accordance with their obligations under the treaty.

Source : website of the World Health Organization (

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