WATCH: The annual campaign aims to educate people about the dangers of smoking. Ceilidh Millar reports.
Could you give up smoking for a day?
The Canadian Cancer Society is trying to curb tobacco use with their annual ‘Weedless Wednesday’ campaign which encourages smokers to butt out for 24 hours.
Jenny Byford, advocacy lead for cancer control with the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. and Yukon chapter, says the health benefits are often immediate.
“In just 20 minutes your blood pressure can go down and your heart rate returns to normal,” Byford explained.
This year, they’re extending the challenge to cannabis smokers as part of National Non-Smoking Week.
While further research is needed, the society is concerned that long-term cannabis use could increase the risk of cancer.
“We know that it could be possible for cannabis to increase the risk of cancers particularly of the head, neck and lung,” said Byford.
Byford says that around 30 per cent of all cancer-related deaths in Canada are caused by tobacco use.
Despite the health risks associated with tobacco use, smoking is on the rise across the country.
According to Statistics Canada, the number of Canadian smokers aged 25 and up hit 16 per cent of the population in 2017, up from 13 per cent just two years earlier.
“We’re the only province where you can still buy tobacco in pharmacies,” Byford explained. “In some areas it’s easier to buy tobacco than it is to get fresh groceries.”
The campaign was established almost forty years ago to raise awareness and help people quit.
For more resources on quitting smoking, Byford recommends the Quit Now program, which provides free consultation by telephone or text.