As we embark on National Non-Smoking Week, Jan. 16-22, Jenn Corcoran, a clerk/ interpreter at the Kimmirut health centre, knows the taste of success.

She gave up cigarettes six months ago now, for financial reasons.

“What pushed me to stop was mostly the price but after having stopped smoking, it’s made such a big difference in such a short time,” says Corcoran.

“I started smoking under the age of 15. I personally am a very active person and smoking took that from me at such a young age,” said Corcoran. “I find cigarettes and smoking way too accessible for youth under the age of 19 in Nunavut.”

For those who are hooked on nicotine, Corcoran has some advice.

“I would tell someone that wants to quit smoking that cravings only last a few minutes and that you’re stronger than your cravings,” advises Corcoran.

According to Statistics Canada, the prevalence of smoking among Inuit in Canada remains high, particularly in Nunavut, where lung cancer remains the most common form of the disease.

However, tobacco use is trending down overall throughout Inuit Nunangat — between 1991 and 2012 daily smoking declined from 64 to 52 per cent.

Most of this change took place after 2001 with rates still at 61 per cent that same year.

Inuit between the ages of 45 and 54 saw the least change over the course of this period while the greatest decreases came from the 55 to 64 and 65 and older age categories.

In the chief public health officer’s 2019-2020 Tobacco Control and Smoke-Free Places Act annual report, tobacco use rates remain high with a territory-wide smoking rate for people aged 12 and older at 74 per cent, with some communities reaching as high as 84 per cent. That’s several-fold higher than the national provincial rate of 16 per cent.

According to the report, smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing tuberculosis at a rate 3.5 times higher — it’s an affliction that Nunavut is still dealing with in some communities.

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