Report says Canadian tobacco deaths on rise
OTTAWA - The toll from smoking and second-hand fumes is rising significantly in Canada, according to an article in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.
The journal article's authors, Eva Makomaski Illing and Murray Kaiserman, said 47,581 Canadian deaths could be attributed to tobacco use in 1998, an increase of 24 per cent from the deaths blamed on tobacco in 1989.
About 1,100 of the deaths in 1998 could be linked to second-hand smoke, according to the researchers.
According to the article, in 1998, smoking killed:
16,394 people in Ontario.
7,593 Prairie dwellers.
5,730 British Columbians.
4,569 Atlantic Canadians.
Smoking was responsible for 22 per cent of all deaths in the country in 1998, and remains the leading preventable cause of death, the article said.
Direct causes of death included cancers, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases, but not fire deaths caused by smoking, for which figures weren't available.
The toll included 96 infants under the age of 12 months who died of smoking-related conditions such as low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome and respiratory problems. That number is actually about half the 197 infant deaths a decade earlier, perhaps a sign that stop-smoking campaigns aimed at pregnant women are having an effect.
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The authors expect the tobacco-related death rate to keep rising, though fewer people are smoking these days. That's because the rate of illness and death today reflects smoking rates from the 1970s and 1980s.
That lag time also explains why the smoking-related death rate for women is rising more sharply than the rate for men.
The number of female smokers peaked in the 1970s as social taboos against women picking up the habit relaxed.
More than two-thirds of the extra deaths in 1998 were women, although men are still almost twice as likely to die from tobacco causes as women.
The Canadian Journal of Public Health is the official publication of the Ottawa-based Canadian Public Health Association.