British Columbia

It's Weedless Wednesday: No darts or doobs for 24 hours

It is National Non-Smoking Week and the Canadian Cancer Society is challenging smokers to abstain from cannabis and cigarettes for one day.

National Non-Smoking Week encourages smokers to butt out for 1 day

Weedless Wednesday originally started as a challenge for tobacco smokers to butt out for 24 hours. The challenge now extends to recreational cannabis smokers. (CBC)

The Canadian Cancer Society is encouraging smokers to butt out for 24 hours on Weedless Wednesday, and, now that recreational cannabis is legal, the challenge is extended to cannabis smokers as well.

National Non-Smoking Week is a yearly event that began in 1977 and Weedless Wednesday is an annual occasion for smokers to abstain from lighting up. This year, smokers of the wacky tobacky are invited to join the movement.

Jenny Byford, advocacy lead for cancer control with the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. and Yukon chapter, said the society is concerned that long-term cannabis smoking might increase the risk of cancer, but better research is needed to understand the risks.

Byford said cannabis smoke contains many of the same cancer-causing substances as tobacco smoke and that people who smoke cannabis tend to inhale more smoke and hold it in longer. 

"Some studies suggest that it could increase the risk of cancer of the lung, head and neck," said Byford.

While Byford said more research is required on cannabis, the facts are indisputable when it comes to the negative impact of tobacco — which Byford said kills 6,000 British Columbians every year.

Smoking rates on the rise

And for the first time in a long time, there is a spike in tobacco use.

The number of Canadian smokers aged 25 and up hit 16 per cent of the population in 2017, up from 13 per cent two years earlier, according to a recent survey by Statistics Canada.

Byford believes the spike could be attributed to the renormalization of smoking that has come with vaping and cannabis use.

According to The Canadian Cancer Society, about 30 per cent of all cancer related deaths in Canada are caused by tobacco use. Smoking causes not only lung cancer, but 16 different types of other cancers as well.

A smoker who abstains for one day will experience a drop in carbon monoxide and a rise in oxygen levels in their body within eight hours.

It's a tough habit to quit, and Byford recommends smokers look into the Quit Now program, which provides free supportive coaching by telephone and text. 

The B.C. Smoking Cessation Program also helps eligible British Columbia smokers hoping to stop by covering the cost of nicotine replacement therapy products.

So take a deep breath, butt out and breathe easier today.

It might just stick this time.

Deborah Goble

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