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News Release

Health unit recognizes five new Tobacco Free Champions

May 30, 2013
Communities around our region are healthier this year thanks to the efforts of local champions who are working to making the places we play, live and gather tobacco free.

­­­Today is World No Tobacco Day

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – Communities around our region are healthier this year thanks to the efforts of local champions who are working to making the places we play, live and gather tobacco free.

To mark World No Tobacco Day in 2013 the health unit is recognizing five local champions nominated by their peers and community partners for making it a priority to help their clients, residents, staff and families stay or become tobacco free. These efforts contribute to the World Health Organization goal of stopping more than 5 million world-wide deaths annually caused by tobacco use.

Among those being recognized is Pilkington Glass of Collingwood. The plant became a 100-per-cent tobacco-free facility in March. Tobacco use of any kind is prohibited anywhere on the company grounds. For the past year, in preparation for the change, the company has been supporting its employees, their partners and dependent children by covering the cost of tobacco cessation aids. To date, more than 35 employees have taken advantage of this program and most remain smoke free. A true tobacco-free culture has developed at Pilkington.

Similarly, long-term care home Hillcrest Village Care Centre in Midland has implemented a smoke-free grounds policy at its site. The administration committed to supporting staff in the transition by making nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) available to help people quit or manage the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal during the work day.

Helping people make the journey to tobacco-free living is a passion for Jessica Bakker, a mental health and addictions counselor at the Chigamik Community Health Centre, Midland. Ms. Bakker was nominated by her peers who identified her as a spirited champion who developed and runs a monthly workshop to help people get started on the road to quitting. Working hard to ensure there are no barriers to enrollment among Chigamik clients, she is now working on expanding the program to the entire community.

The Town of Gravenhurst has been nominated for council’s great leadership in the development of its Outdoor Smoke-Free Spaces bylaw. While it is the 13th municipality to come on board in Simcoe Muskoka, it is the first to expand the scope of the bylaw to prohibit the use of any type of tobacco product – including chew tobacco – at sports fields and other places frequented by youth including the Centennial Centre.

The town’s bylaw inspired Dallyn Telford, the general manager and head coach of the South Muskoka Shield, a Greater Metro League Junior A hockey team playing out of Gravenhurst, to institute its own tobacco-free sport team policy. That decision has earned the organization a Tobacco-Free Champion Award. The policy requires all team members to stay clear of tobacco products while engaged in any activities related to the team. Players are also expected to be role models for younger hockey players and have demonstrated that commitment by hosting a tobacco-free sports night at the Centennial Centre.

Each of this year’s recipients will be presented with a Tobacco-Free Champion plaque by the health unit. These winners join 32 other champions who have been honored since the awards were created in 2008.

For more information or support for tobacco-free living visit the health unit website at simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Your Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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