Health Canada

Health Canada

March 19, 2008 14:47 ET

UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College Get Funding to Help Students Butt Out

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 19, 2008) - Ron Cannan, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, today announced an investment of $121,342 for the University of British Columbia Okanagan's and their partner Okanagan College's Health and Wellness Smoke Free program on behalf of Health Minister Tony Clement. The funding will allow the university to expand a tobacco cessation program that helps students quit smoking.

"Young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 have the highest smoking rate in the country, at 27 per cent," said Minister Clement. "The Government of Canada is committed to helping Canadians quit smoking. This project will help do that."

"The Government of Canada knows that parents get concerned about their children smoking, especially during their young adult years. By supporting this program, we are working to keep their children smoke-free while attending post-secondary school," said M.P. Cannan. "This program's goal is to lower the student smoking rate by three per cent - which would be almost three hundred students quitting smoking. This means more students leading healthier lives."

The Health and Wellness Smoke Free program will operate in the campus communities of UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College. It will provide individualized counselling and guidance for students, as well as tobacco cessation training for campus health practitioners. The project will also offer a cessation program that post-secondary students can use and personalize to meet their needs. Health Canada has previously provided funding for a cessation specialist to develop this program.

UBC Okanagan and their partner Okanagan College house close to 10,000 students. Smoking rates on campus range from 15 to 19 per cent. As the first university and college in British Columbia to develop a tobacco cessation policy, they are seen as leaders in instituting tobacco control in post-secondary settings. The results of this Smoke Free project will be shared with other universities and health care providers to help them encourage students to stop smoking.

"We don't have enough information about reducing tobacco consumption in young people," said UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr. Doug Owram. "Smoke Free at UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College will help us find out what works and add to the data out there."

Smoking remains the most preventable cause of disease and premature death in Canada. More than 37,000 people die prematurely each year in Canada due to tobacco use and at least 800 non-smokers die every year from exposure to second-hand smoke.

For more information on Health Canada's tobacco control efforts, please visit Health Canada's Go Smoke Free website. (http://www.gosmokefree.ca).

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