Tobacco awareness targets rodeos

For the first time ever Swap to Stop is making an appearance at the Ponoka Stampede to launch its tobacco awareness campaign.

For the first time ever Swap to Stop is making an appearance at the Ponoka Stampede to launch its tobacco awareness campaign.

Starting June 26, several health organizations will work together to raise awareness and encourage rodeo athletes and attendees to stop using tobacco products.

“Albertans use smokeless tobacco at rates amongst the highest in Canada. In fact, Alberta sales represent about 40 per cent of the total Canadian market,” says Les Hagen of Action on Smoking and Health in a recent press release.

Swap to Stop will have a booth at the Stampede to promote tobacco free lifestyles and help those wishing to quit take the first steps.

The program also took part in the Grande Prairie rodeo and according to Laura Fitzgerald, of Limited Canada, five to seven hundred people stopped at the booth and left some of their cigarettes as part of the swap.

Stopping smoking is hard to do. It often takes several tries,” said Angela Webb, of the Canadian Cancer Society. “Family and friends play a major role in helping people reach a tobacco free and healthier lifestyle, and there are many great resources and programs available for those thinking about quitting, and those supporting someone in doing so.”

Fitzgerald said that children as young as six-years-old are starting to use chewing tobacco.

According to different studies, including Canadian Cancer Statistics, it is estimated 25,600 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 10,200 people will die of lung cancer this year in Canada.

Fitzgerald says there is a high use of tobacco products in young male athletes, rural community members, and Aboriginal people. At the Ponoka Stampede, Swap to Stop will be able to provide information, resources and support to a combination of each of those groups.

The partners of the Swap to Stop campaign are Action on Smoking and Health; Canadian Cancer Society, AB and NWT; McNeil Consumer Healthcare, division of Johnson and Johnson Inc.; Miss Rodeo Canada; and the Lung Association of AB and NWT.