Beyond the Tobacco War – What’s Next in Prevention & Protection?

BCAHL’s first webinar for 2013 focused on a common ‘healthy living’ topic at the start of a new year – that is stopping smoking. We were so pleased to have such knowledgeable presenters who were able to deliver an engaging session to an audience that spanned the province of BC as well as a few folks from Alberta and Saskatchewan! BCAHL invited tobacco experts who could articulate 3 important planks in BCAHL`s tobacco advocacy platform:

  1. Prevention and cessation services customized for specific populations;
  2. Regulation of the film industry to limit tobacco marketing to youth; and
  3. Protection from second-hand smoke for residents in apartments, condos, townhouses and suites


No SmokingDr. Joan Bottorff, started her presentation describing how gender frames men and women’s interactions with tobacco. Men and women often support each other’s habits based upon relationship patterns – such as going out to share a smoke together or smoking after a stressful event. She also showed how gender identities can be mobilized to promote quitting.

Pregnancy and the early years are a prime opportunity to intervene. It is common for expectant mothers to attempt quitting at this time period but this isn’t always true for new Dads. Unfortunately, when new fathers don’t quit, it can also undermine a woman’s efforts to go smoke-free. Dr. Bottorff’s research found that appealing to certain masculine identities – such as the desire to ‘be a good dad’ – can strengthen men’s resolve to quit. This research has informed programs developed by ‘Families Limiting and Controlling Tobacco’ specifically for new fathers.

Our second speaker, Jonathan Polansky looked at the way Big Tobacco is covertly marketing the appeal of smoking to young people through movies. This is a problem because young adults are one of those groups that have higher rates of tobacco use – and also some of the biggest consumers of film. While the smoking rate, has decreased steadily for the average British Columbian to a low of 14.3%, the rate among 20-25 years olds is much higher – sometimes as much as 10% higher.

He explained how a change in film subsidy rules that would exclude movies with tobacco imagery from public funding would limit the incentive for producers to make movies that market tobacco to youth. Other proven policies include shifting ratings so that movies with smoking are given an adult ‘R’, showing anti-tobacco spots preceding movies and banning tobacco brands in film. He also described how Canadian children are exposed to much more tobacco imagery as we have fewer ‘R’ ratings than our American friends and how voluntary measures have had no effect.

Our final speakers, Jack Boomer and Sharon Hammond explained how, while the majority of British Columbians don’t smoke, in multi-unit buildings, 34% report being exposed to second-hand smoke that creeps in from neighbouring units. Sharon described how many of the perceived barriers to are really non-issues. Concerns about the legality of smoke-free policies and the economic impacts (such as re-sale value) aren’t well understood. Yes, it is legal to make a building smoke-free so long as existing tenants agree to sign-on or are grandfathered. The economic impacts actually favour smoke-free buildings which are not only less costly to maintain but are also in high demand.

We may have won some key battles in the Tobacco War but we still have a way to go to make BC Smoke-Free.

Thank you for NOT smoking.