QUEBEC CITY – Tobacco control organizations are calling on the Legault government to ask smokers to insist on the risks they run in the event of COVID-19 contamination.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, the Quebec Lung Association, Capsana and the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health implore Quebec to communicate without delay to the population the risks associated with smoking while encouraging smokers to quit.
“Given that smokers in Quebec, as elsewhere, face an increased risk of infections and complications linked to the pandemic, they deserve to be better informed and equipped to deal with their addiction,” these organizations affirm.
“Smoking is the main risk factor common to most of the factors associated with higher mortality from COVID-19: cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes,” they add.
These organizations are also calling for the temporary removal of financial barriers to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and other cessation aids.
“In this anxiety-provoking and precarious financial context for many families, the reduction of financial barriers to cessation would not only be opportune to reduce smoking, but would also constitute an important government signal encouraging those who wish to get rid of their dependence on nicotine, “writes the group.
In preparation for the post-pandemic economic recovery, these organizations are also proposing to raise the tobacco tax in order to replenish government coffers.
According to the Quebec Institute for Statistics, nearly 13,000 Quebecers die each year from tobacco-related illnesses. Quebec still has more than 1.25 million smokers, including nearly 900,000 who smoke daily, reports the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control.