REGINA – People living in Saskatchewan are known for a lot of things and it appears that includes smoking.
According to a new Statistics Canada study, the province has the highest rate of people, aged 12 or older, lighting up across all the provinces, at 22.8 per cent.
Donna Pasiechnik with the Saskatchewan Division of the Canadian Cancer Society says the province also maintains the highest teen smoking rate in the country for ten years running.
“When you have the highest teen smoking rates for ten years in a row and do little to nothing to address the problem, you get young adults smoking at the rate we’re seeing,” she explained.
Tami Denomie, director of health promotions with the Saskatchewan ministry of health, says the numbers aren’t surprising.
“We recognize we have very high smoking rates in this province. So some of the efforts we’re doing in the population and health is looking at reducing tobacco rates,” said Denomie.
The numbers have improved, but slowly, with only a one per cent decrease over a two year period.
On top of an increase in the tobacco tax last year, the provincial government has launched a number of anti-smoking and educational initiatives to prevent or help people quit smoking.
However, Pasiechnik stressed that Saskatchewan is lagging behind other provinces for preventive measures, such as regulating flavored tobacco products.
“We’re waiting to see what other provinces do. Well what are we waiting for?” she questions.
“We have rational to do it!”
British Columbia maintains the lowest rate of smokers in Canada at 16.3 per cent and Ontario is second at 18.1 per cent.