MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT Honours Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit
BARRIE – Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson today presented the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit with a Heather Crowe Award for helping the province dramatically reduce smoking rates .
“Our government is on the side of Ontario families who want the best health care ,” said Watson, speaking at the offices of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “With the help of partners like the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, we are helping the residents of Ontario live healthier, more active lives.”
The government created the Heather Crowe Award to honour the leadership and commitment of tobacco control activist Heather Crowe, who fought to improve the health of Ontarians by eliminating second-hand smoke in the workplace and in enclosed public places.
“I want to recognize the staff of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit for their commitment and professionalism in protecting our residents and visitors from second-hand smoke, helping to prevent strokes, cancer and heart attacks,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka’s Medical Officer of Health. “I also wish to congratulate the Province for its leadership in implementing the Smoke-Free Ontario Act which supports our work."
"The board of health benefited from the courageous stand by municipalities in Muskoka and Simcoe in creating smoke-free bylaws, and the Heather Crowe Award, while it is presented to the health unit, is also a tribute to the local advocates who care about the health of their community," said board of health chairman Dennis Roughley.
Smoking kills an average of 16,000 people in Ontario each year. Tobacco-related diseases cost the Ontario health care system at least $1.7 billion a year, result in more than $2.6 billion in productivity losses, and account for at least 500,000 hospital days each year.
In 2006, Simcoe Muskoka received $1,064,649 in funding for the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy —a 38.9 per cent increase over the previous year. This provincial funding is used to help prevent young people from smoking, enforce regulations that eliminate smoking in the workplace, and help smokers quit. This investment will help the government reduce tobacco consumption by 20 per cent from 2003 levels.
Ontario ’s tobacco consumption has fallen by 18.7 per cent or more than 2.6 billion cigarettes since 2003. During that time, the government has increased its investments in tobacco control six-fold to a total of $60 million, including a $10 million increase in 2006 over the previous year.