Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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News Release

Smiling about the work youth have done to clear the air of tobacco smoke

May 31, 2016
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – Say cheese! Local high school students are smiling for the camera in celebration of the role youth have played clearing the air of tobacco over the last 10 years.

Today is World No Tobacco Day!

SIMCOE MUSKOKASay cheese! Local high school students are smiling for the camera in celebration of the role youth have played clearing the air of tobacco over the last 10 years.

They’re celebrating while the province marks the 10th anniversary of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and World No Tobacco Day 2016.

Molly Iliohan, a youth volunteer with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says her group wanted to celebrate all the work teens have done to promote tobacco-free living over the years.

“Back in 2008 a group of Barrie youth took to the streets to push for a ban on smoking in cars with little kids,” said Iliohan. “Their voices, along with other youth advocates from across the province were heard. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) was expanded in 2009 making it illegal to smoke in cars with kids under 16 years of age.”

“There was also a summer park hop organized to get parents onboard with our call for smoke-free parks,” added fellow volunteer Trevor Boote. “Our work helped. Barrie City Council passed a smoke-free park bylaw in 2009 and in 2015 the SFOA was expanded making all public playgrounds and playing fields in Ontario no smoking zones.”

The celebration event at Barrie Central Collegiate was organized around a photo booth at the high school. T-shirts with slogans and clever memes created by the volunteers, along with fun accessories from a dress-up trunk were available so students could have fun taking pictures and sharing their messages on social media.

“We want other students to tweet, post Facebook pictures, use Instagram and hashtag their posts so we can reach as many people as possible,” added Katie Osolin, another volunteer with the health unit and a student at Barrie Central. “We are also hoping more students will get involved and help us with the campaign we are working on now to get smoking out of movies that are geared to kids.”

“It’s going to take a lot of education and awareness about how tobacco product placement in movies can influence kids, so we need to work together so our voices can be heard and we can make some positive changes in our community.”  

Youth between the ages of 15 and 24 who are interested in volunteering with the Smoke-Free Movies movement can contact Tracey Burnet-Greene at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit by email at

The SFOA was introduced in 2006 with a ban on smoking in enclosed work and public places. It has been expanded over the past decade to include a ban on smoking in many places where families play, gather and work. This year flavoured tobacco products that attract youth were also banned after more than two years of activism by Ontario youth.

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated on May 31 each year to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and mark the progress being made to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use.



CAPTION: Running the photo booth at Barrie Central Collegiate are, left to right, Tobacco-Free Living youth volunteers Katie Osolin, Trevor Boote, Quinton Moores and Molly Iliohan. Photo courtesy Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit


10 years of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act

SFOA by the numbers

  • 2006 Enclosed workplaces and public places go smoke free
  • 2008 Ban on the display/promotion of tobacco products in stores
  • 2009 Ban on smoking in vehicles carrying children
  • 2010 Ban on sale of flavored cigarillos, regulations on packaging
  • 2011 Strengthen controls on growing and importing raw leaf tobacco
  • 2015 No smoking at playgrounds, sports fields and play areas
  • 2015 Bars and Restaurant patios go smoke free
  • 2015 Prohibition on tobacco sales on post-secondary campuses
  • 2016 Ban on sale of flavoured tobacco that appeals to youth

Quick Facts about Tobacco Use in Ontario

  • Ontario’s smoking rates are the third lowest in Canada in 2015
  • 13,000 people die yearly from tobacco-related causes
  • Treating tobacco-related disease costs $2.2 billion in direct healthcare costs
  • Non-smokers live on average 10 years longer than people who smoke long term 
  • Fewer than 10 per cent of youth in Simcoe Muskoka smoke
  • One in four high school students who do smoke have smoked menthol in past 30 days
  • Four of five Ontarians living in multi-unit dwellings want to live in a smoke-free building.;

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