With smoking rates static on P.E.I., government needs 'to redouble its efforts'
'We should be going down; that's not happening'
A new report from Statistics Canada that shows smoking rates on P.E.I. are largely unchanged over the last four years has raised concern at the Canadian Cancer Society.
While numbers in the Canadian Community Health Survey show some fluctuation from 2015 to 2018, Statistics Canada says the changes are not significant and it considers the rate steady — with around 16 per cent reporting daily or occasional tobacco use.
Meanwhile, the rate nationally has declined below that level.
"We're quite concerned about the lack of progress over several years in Prince Edward Island," said Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society.
"We should be going down; that's not happening. And that means the Prince Edward Island government needs to redouble its efforts."
Cunningham said there are a number of measures the government could take: raising taxes, more money for smoking cessation programs and banning smoking on patios.
Addressing youth smoking
The society also wants the legal age for purchasing tobacco raised to 21, something Cunningham notes has been done in 16 states.
The subject of increasing the legal age came up just last week, in the wake of study that showed smoking and vaping rates up significantly among Canadian youth.
Cunningham said raising the legal age to 21 would make it significantly more difficult for high school students to find an older friend or sibling to make purchases for them.
When asked about the legal age last week, Health Minister James Aylward said the government isn't ready to commit to anything but discussions on the subject have started.