The Regional Municipality of Durham

News Release

Celebrating smoke-free outdoor public places this World No Tobacco Day

WHITBY, ON May 26, 2015 – Durham Region Health Department will mark World No Tobacco Day, May 31, by continuing to celebrate and promote the new regulations to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act that came into effect Jan. 1, 2015. It is now illegal to smoke at bar and restaurant patios, sell tobacco on college and university campuses, and smoke near children’s playgrounds and public sports fields and surfaces.

“We’re pleased with the new provincial regulations that took effect earlier this year,” said Shelley Simic, a public health nurse with the Health Department. “As the weather gets warmer, area residents will be able to enjoy more smoke-free outdoor public places knowing that they’ll be protected from exposure to tobacco products.”

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated annually on May 31 to recognize the harmful effects of tobacco. Tobacco is responsible for more than 37,000 deaths every year in Canada. Each year, 13,000 of those deaths occur in Ontario; this means that every day, 36 people in Ontario die from tobacco-related illnesses. Ms. Simic, however, noted that the majority of Ontarians are now non-smokers and this trend is similarly true in Durham Region.

According to a 2013 Health Department survey, 15 per cent of Durham Region residents are current smokers, or approximately 75,000 people. “We know that 70 per cent of these current smokers have indicated that they’re considering quitting or planning on quitting within the next six months,” added Ms. Simic.

For people trying to quit smoking or those who have recently quit, smoke-free public areas are a key support in helping to reducing triggers that may encourage these individuals to continue smoking. The benefits of smoke-free public areas also assist in socially de-normalizing tobacco use and help to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products.

“Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death and disease in Canada,” explained Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health. “Strategies to help prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products are a priority. Smoke-free playgrounds and sports fields not only encourage a healthy, smoke-free and active lifestyle, but they also serve to help provide positive role models for youth and protect everyone from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.”

To mark World No Tobacco Day, the Health Department will host information displays at various locations across Durham Region from May 25 to 29. For more information on quitting smoking, tobacco use prevention and protecting people from exposure to second-hand smoke, please call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729. To learn more about the new provincial regulations, signage and enforcement, please call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613.

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Media inquiries:

The Regional Municipality of Durham:

Glendene Collins – Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999

If this information is required in an accessible format, please contact the Accessibility Co-ordinator at 1-800-372-1102 extension 2009.

For more information, please contact Health Department.