HEALTH Minister Terry Lake issued the following statement in recognition of National Non-Smoking Week from January 19 to 25 and Weedless Wednesday on January 22:

“I grew up in a house filled with smokers. I saw my parents and siblings struggle to break their terrible addiction to cigarettes. We nursed my mum through multiple heart attacks, lung cancer and emphysema which ultimately claimed her life.

“I know many British Columbians have had similar experiences trying to break their cycle of addiction or help their family and friends do so. This National Non-Smoking Week, I implore all British Columbians to consider the health effects of smoking; which include lung, throat and oral cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, and other serious ailments. Second-hand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children including severe asthma, respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden death syndrome.

“Here in B.C. we continue to have the lowest smoking rates in Canada at 14.5 per cent, which is a reflection of the importance British Columbians place on a healthy lifestyle supported by our strong tobacco control policy and smoking cessation programs.

“Through B.C.’s Smoking Cessation Program and QuitNow services, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians are supported in taking active steps toward making a choice to protect their own health and that of their families. The program provides support in quitting as well and free smoking cessation aids. It is easily accessible by calling HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or visiting:

“Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and it’s never too late to quit. On Weedless Wednesday smokers can try going just one smoke-free day as a beginning of their journey to better health.

“I encourage all British Columbians who smoke to take advantage of the Smoking Cessation Program and to consider quitting during National Non-Smoking Week.”