Many who work with Kivalliq youth are amping up the anti-tobacco message louder than normal this week as National Non-Smoking Week (Jan. 15 to 21) is being celebrated across the country.
The anti-tobacco week has been celebrated annually in Canada since 1977. The week’s goals are to educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking and to help people quit smoking.
Glen Brocklebank, an instructor with the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) in Chesterfield Inlet, said tobacco use in general is pretty common across the Kivalliq and Chesterfield Inlet is no exception.
When asking the youth in JCR directly about tobacco use in the community, they say seven out of 10 young people are using tobacco products (snuff or smoking), according to Brocklebank.
“As JCR instructors, we talk about healthy life choices and trying to resist the urge or peer pressure to use tobacco,” he said. “Last summer at the camp in Whitehorse, all tobacco products were taken from JCR attending the camp. It was a big concern about living a healthy life.”
Brocklebank said instructors and the JCR youth talk a lot about the addictive properties of tobacco, and how once you start it is very difficult to stop.
He said they also talk about how the local health centre has several options to help people quit.
“I think our talks on the subject are well received, but still a large percentage are using tobacco products.
“Mostly the message from older people and Rangers themselves is that they wish they had never started in the first place, because it is very challenging to quit.
“We run the numbers about how much you spend per week, per month and per year using tobacco and they are usually shocked at the cost.
“It’s a tough battle, as the statistics are very high for the North and tobacco use.”
Brocklebank likes to give the community’s Junior Rangers the facts and answer any questions that they may have.
He tries not to say “don’t” when broaching the subject of tobacco use with the youth.
“I want them to be able to make decisions for themselves based upon all the information available.
“I focus on the costs — like if you smoke two packs a week, you will spend X amount of dollars per year — and also that it is addictive and very difficult to quit.
“Then I ask someone who does use tobacco products if they wished they hadn’t started and why.
“I also point out that the health centre has options to help quit for free if they want to get support quitting.”