Coalition of clinicians, public policy experts and First Nations join forces to reduce incidences of cigarette smoking on Reserves
MISSISSAUGA, ON, Nov. 24, 2020 – The use of cigarettes on First Nations Reserves is exponentially higher than elsewhere and is a huge driver of disease and preventable death. The Canadian Coalition for Harm Reduction recently released its White Paper “Tobacco Control and Community Based Harm Reduction interventions The Case for Tobacco Harm Reduction in Canadian Indigenous Communities”. It proposes a research study on First Nation reserve(s) to study alternatives to cigarettes – like vape products – as a harm reduction tool.
Canada has embraced vaping as a harm reduction tool and amended the Tobacco Act to include Vape Products (Tobacco and Vape Products Act 2018) which legalized the sale of vape products in Canada. “Since the Act was passed, we have been working with governments at the national and provincial levels to amend legislation and regulations to include vape products in a way the also protects youth – today there is agreement that vape products are a less harmful and viable viable alternative to cigarettes”.
Vape products have been available for sale at specialty vape shops and other retail outlets throughout Canada. However, most First Nations reserves continue to see incidences of cigarette use at higher levels. “My concern is that harm reduction tools and awareness about alternatives to cigarette use are not available to First Nations”, said Neda Debassige Toeg, a member of the Coalition and a First Nation health practitioner, “When given the option to reduce the incidences of smoking , I believe we can substantially reduce overall health risks to First Nations – especially at a time when our people are more vulnerable to harm than the majority of non-First Nations”, said Ms Debassige Toeg.
The Coalition’s “White Paper” is being circulated to elected officials at all levels of Government and stakeholders throughout Canada and beyond. Most recently, the Coalition provided the Government of Nunavut with a copy of the Paper while Nunavut considers regulation for vape products through its Territorial Government. “We would like to see a full scale research project done in every First Nation and Inuit Community throughout this land” said Ms. Debassige Toeg, “It is my hope that Health Canada and every Provincial and Territorial government sees the value of harm reduction on First Nations reserves and our Coalition is prepared to advise and participate to the fullest.”
The Coalition for Harm Reduction was founded in 2019 and comprises clinicians and public policy experts. The group is led by Marc Kealey who has acted a public policy advisor to the vape industry in Canada and has successfully made the case to regulators that vape products are a harm reduction tool and should be incorporated anti-smoking strategies. As other countries consider harm reduction tools like vape products to replace the incidences of cigarettes, the Coalition has committed its time and expertise to assist. To view the White Paper, simply click on the link https://www.dropbox.com/s/v7r3qjebavg34xx/FINAL-Tobacco%20Control%20and%20Community%20Based%20HR%20Interventions%20in%20Aboriginal%20Communities.pdf?dl=0
For further information: Marc Kealey, CCHR, [email protected], call: (905)625-3002 ext. 223