Chatham-Kent Public Health officials are concerned about the high smoking and vaping rates in the area, which are alarmingly higher than the provincial average.
According to Jeff Moco, the youth engagement co-ordinator for CK Public Health, the rate of tobacco smoking in Chatham-Kent is 13%, while the provincial average is 9%. Furthermore, smoking is estimated to be responsible for the death of 220 local residents per year.
As for vaping, the numbers are even more concerning. Provincial figures from the Ontario Student Drug and Health Survey indicate that 15% of students had vaped in the past year. However, local figures show that 32% of high school aged students in Chatham-Kent vape at least once a month.
The primary targets for smoking cessation efforts are teens and young adults since the highest adult age group for smoking locally is the 20-44 category at 23.2%.
To help those who want to quit smoking, CK Public Health has started using CAMH’s STOP program. Anyone without a family doctor in Chatham-Kent can get 26 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy with this program, as well as individualized counseling.
The federal government acknowledges that vaping is safer than smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes in some ways since vaping products produce only a small fraction of the 7,000-plus chemicals found in tobacco smoke, as well as lower levels of the potentially harmful ones. However, nicotine is still addictive and may cause physical dependence.
To prevent a new generation from getting addicted to nicotine, public health officials in Chatham-Kent are urging people to make quit attempts and increase prevention efforts. Quitting can be difficult, but it is the best way to improve overall health.