The majority of Island residents are non-smokers. However, tobacco use still remains the number one preventable cause of illness and early death in Prince Edward Island. Smoking is a major modifiable risk factor for several chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes.
Tobacco use kills approximately 250 Island residents each year and exposure to second-hand smoke causes at least 1,000 deaths per year in Canada from lung cancer and heart disease.
While the rate of daily smoking has been decreasing in Canada, it has stayed the same in PEI. The rate of daily smoking in PEI is typically higher than that of Canada. In 2017/18, 13% of PEI residents reported that they smoked daily compared to 10.9% of Canadians (PEI CPHO Report, 2021).
Tobacco use tends to be higher among Island residents with low income, low education and poor mental health. When compared to the level of daily smoking among PEI residents overall, daily smoking is significantly more common among males and those living in the more highly deprived neighbourhoods.
- PEI Smoking Cessation Program
In December 2019, the PEI Chief Public Health Office launched a publicly-funded universal smoking cessation program as part of its comprehensive approach to tobacco control.
In April 2023, the PEI Chief Public Health Office introduced vaping cessation into the Smoking Cessation Program.
The PEI Smoking Cessation Program supports PEI residents who wish to stop smoking or using other tobacco products by covering 100% of the cost of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products (i.e., nicotine gum, lozenges, patches, and inhaler) and specific smoking cessation prescription medications.
- Benefits of Quitting Smoking
One of the most important steps people can take to improve their health is to quit smoking. There are many reasons to stop using tobacco, regardless of age or how long you have been smoking, the health benefits of quitting tobacco are almost immediate.
- Within just 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure drops to a level similar to before your last cigarette.
- After 8 hours, the level of carbon monoxide, in your blood returns to normal. Your risk of having a heart attack starts to drop after 24 hours.
- Within 2 weeks to 3 months, the airways in your lungs relax, allowing you to breathe easier and get more air into your lungs. After 1 to 9 months, you'll cough less, and your lungs will work even better.
- After a year, your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a person who smokes.
- After 5 years, your chances of having a stroke are the same as someone who's never smoked.
- After 10 years, your chance of dying from cancer is significantly lower.
- After 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is similar to someone who's never smoked.
In addition to the health benefits, quitting tobacco can have a positive impact on your family and finances.
- Evaluation Report
In October 2020, the Chief Public Health Office launched a comprehensive evaluation to assess the impact of the Provincial Smoking Cessation Program and experiences of Island residents who accessed program supports in the first year of the program. The full report can be found here: PEI Smoking Cessation Evaluation Report