Strategy launched by anti-smoking group
Posted: Feb 26, 2013 4:10 PM NT
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2013 7:18 AM NT
The Alliance for the Control of Tobacco delivered a five-year strategy to curb smoking in the province.
The anti-smoking group presented the plan to the health minister on Tuesday morning in St. John's.
Kevin Coady, executive director of ACT, said the government should be targeting groups that have high rates of smoking - such as people on low incomes.
"We've identified priority groups; they include pregnant women, aboriginal peoples, youth, young adults, people with low income, people with chronic disease, people with mental illness. The rates in those areas are rather high - certainly much higher than the overall," Coady said.
"We think by focusing on these groups we may, or should be able to, lower the overall rate, because that seems to be where work is needed right now."
Noreen Fardy, a family doctor and chair of ACT, said up to 27 per cent of pregnant women continue to smoke.
"When pregnant people come in and admit to smoking, the last thing we want to do is jump on them," Fardy said.
"What we want to do is offer support — help people understand why it's so unhealthy, because it's not always the people are choosing to do this ... it's become an addiction."
Fardy said encouraging people to quit smoking is important, but trying to pressure people to quit smoking is not always an effective method.
More available medication
According to Coady, one way of reducing the smoking rates is to include smoking cessation medications under the government drug program. He said it would be worth the cost.
"The tobacco use is costing the government a tremendous amount of money through the health care system," he said.
"Offering support only makes sense. In the long run, I think there's money to be saved rather than lost."
Fardy said more government commitment to making the medications more available would be ideal.
"What I would love to see is that the government would be able to provide some money particularly for the low-income population ... if we were able to offer those people a medication to help reduce the craving, it's not the be all to end all, but for some people it works amazingly," she said.
Coady said the group also believes smoking should be banned on all properties owned by the government, including government housing.
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