Too many Chatham-Kent residents continue to smoke, at a rate higher than the provincial average, officials said during Wednesday’s board of health meeting.
A total of 19 per cent of those aged 15 or older smoke in the municipality, compared to the Ontario figure of 13 per cent.
Broken down by age, 23.2 per cent of people 20 to 44 smoke, followed by 19.3 per cent of those 45 to 64, and 10.4 per cent of those 65 and older.
Jeff Moco, youth engagement co-ordinator, provided the tobacco control report at the virtual meeting, saying the health unit continues to try to get the message out.
“Consistently over the years, it’s been our younger audience of young adults 20 to age 44 that has kind of had our highest smoking rates,” he said. “(That is who) a lot of our messaging and campaigns should and will be targeting.”
Moco said research has suggested the pandemic had increased smoking rates, as well as those who smoked daily, but called the picture “incomplete.”
In Chatham-Kent, it is estimated that 220 smoking-attributed deaths occur annually among those aged 35 and older, he said.
Smoking has also led to an estimated 766 hospital admissions and 1,723 emergency department visits each year.
“Numbers don’t tell the story of the people who are impacted,” Moco said. “Our friends, our families, our neighbors, our coworkers…. This is preventable.”
The number of smoking-related illnesses is a burden on the community, as well as the “overtaxed” health care system, he said.
Moco said there are also concerns with vaping, especially among young people, noting there has been an increase in schools asking for educational support on the issue.
Earlier this month, CK Public Health announced the availability of a new quit smoking resource in partnership with the Center for Addiction and Mental Health.
The ‘CK STOP Program’ will be available to Chatham-Kent residents looking to quit smoking and/or vaping through the use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as patches and/or gum.
This program will be available to residents at least 18 years of age who do not have a primary care provider and meet the program’s eligibility criteria. Those eligible can receive up to 26 weeks of free NRT products, as well as access to other counseling supports of their choice.
The program will offer bi-monthly, in-person sessions as well as a mail-out model for those who prefer to make a quit attempt on their own with up to eight weeks of NRT products.
To learn more about the program, and the options available, visit www.CKPublicHealth.com/CKStopProgram
To check your eligibility for the program and to register, visit www.CKPublicHealth.com/CKStopProgramEligibility
For all other inquiries about quitting smoking, visit www.CKPublicHealth.com/QUIT, or contact by email at [email protected], or call 519-352-7270 ext. 2488.