Smoking rates remain high in Northern B.C. compared to the rest of the province.

Smoking rates remain high in Northern B.C. compared to the rest of the province.

Northern lifestyle includes higher smoking rates

Smokers in Northern B.C. are lighting up more often than their counterparts in other areas of the province after a study shows the percentage of smokers in Northern Health’s region surpasses the provincial average.

  • Sep. 14, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Smokers in Northern B.C. are lighting up more often than their counterparts in other areas of the province after a study shows the percentage of smokers in Northern Health’s region surpasses the provincial average.

A July report from Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, which documented tobacco rates country-wide, noted that in Northern Health’s jurisdiction 23.1 per cent of people were smokers, compared to the provincial percentage of 17.4.

Canada-wide it is 20.8 per cent.

It’s not a surprising statistic according to Julie Kerr, who is the director of Population Health with the Northern Health Authority.

“This is the way it always is. B.C. typically has the lowest rates in all of Canada but the North of B.C. rates are much worse,” she said.

The rate in Northern B.C. is so high it works out to about one in four people are smokers.

The factors are wide ranging but some of that comes down to how people in the north live over more urbanized areas down south.

“There are a number of things. Some of it has to do with a Northern ‘live hard, play hard, die hard’ mentality where we tend to have a bit of a pioneering spirit and be risk takers as opposed to risk averse,” she said.

Smoking rates are also higher in industrial work, such as work camps. In those settings people may turn to cigarettes or other substances to combat things like boredom.

“Tobacco, among other substances, become ways of dealing with loneliness and boredom.”

Strong links also exist between tobacco use and other factors such as poverty and low literacy, she said.

Northern B.C. smoking rates are typically steady, around the 22-to-25 per cent usage rate. As of this study we’re roughly back to 2008 levels.

“We continually have our work to do around tobacco use in the north,” said Kerr.

Among their strategies are working with young parents.

“One of the best predictors of whether someone will be a smoker is whether they’re raised by smokers or not.”

They work with parents directly and by delivering messages to students in schools, which they hope they take back to their parents.

“Tobacco rates in general over time are coming down but we just need to sustain the pressure on it.”

The province have aided the fight against tobacco use with a new program beginning Sept. 30 where B.C. will cover the cost of nicotine replacement therapies.

Premier Christy Clark made the announcement for the program back in May. Under the plan, citizens can get either nicotine gum or patches to help quit smoking with a free 12 week suply.

The cost for the program is estimated to run between $15 and $25 million.

“That levels the playing field a little bit where maybe people before only had access to that if they were well employed,” said Kerr.

Through Northern Health, they’ll also be offering more group counseling sessions, as demand has doubled for counseling over the past 24 months. Kerr said that group sessions tend to be as successful or more over one-on-one.

People can receive information on smoking cessation programs through Northern Health on their website at northernhealth.ca.

Respond to this story at editor@interior-news.com

Just Posted

Workers had a busy time today repairing a broken main water line. (District of Houston photo)
Water service being restored

Main line on 13th had broken

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week following the news that the remains of as many as 215 children were found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The flags were raised back up yesterday. (Houston Today photo)
Flags lowered in memory

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week… Continue reading

Bruce Tang- Unsplash photo
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

“Older adults in our communities continue to find themselves in vulnerable situations… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read