Every year on May 31, people around the globe recognize World No Tobacco Day. This day was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness about the health risks and environmental effects of the use of tobacco and smoking.[1] World No Tobacco Day is approaching, and we encourage you to think about the risks of using tobacco.

Why Do People Smoke?

Nicotine is the highly addictive ingredient in smoking products that creates the craving. When a person smokes, nicotine reaches the brain in 7-10 seconds, flooding the brain with dopamine, which provides a temporary mood boost. Once a person starts to smoke regularly, they become conditioned to the hand-to-mouth ritual that is associated with that feel-good sensation. When a smoker is around other people who smoke, they are more likely to continue the habit.[2] In a survey from the Government of Canada, twelve per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older reported smoking cigarettes. Fourteen per cent of males and ten per cent of females reported currently smoking cigarettes, while eleven per cent of males and eight per cent of females smoke cigarettes daily.[3]

Environmental Impacts of Smoking

According to WHO, the tobacco industry contributes significantly to global warming. The industry’s carbon footprint from producing, processing, and transporting tobacco is equivalent to one-fifth of the CO2 produced by the commercial airline industry each year.[4] In addition to contributing to the global carbon footprint, smoking is also a source of land pollution from cigarette butts and their chemical contents that leak into the environment when they are discarded improperly. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke (fumes that are exhaled by smokers and settle in the air) are also concerns as they can have negative health impacts on people who live in the same environment as a smoker.

Why Quit?

Tobacco cessation has a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life and reduces their risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illnesses, like Asthma. You may be thinking that quitting smoking altogether is not an option for you right now, and that’s perfectly fine! Simply reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day can be beneficial. Studies have shown there is a lower risk of early death for smokers who reduced their intake of cigarettes. Even one fewer cigarette a day can lead to health benefits and is a large step in the quitting process. Quitting smoking completely can lead to an increase in energy, less sick days from work, and increase your life expectancy by up to 10 years. Smoking cessation can even change your outlook on life. This could translate into spending more time with family and friends, seeing your grandchildren grow up, and doing more activities you enjoy, such as golfing, crafts, travelling, or exercising.

The Next Step in Quitting

Talk to your pharmacist if you are considering quitting smoking. They can assess your readiness as well as provide additional resources if you need more time to consider. If you are ready for the next step, there are various over-the-counter products available to assist you. A pharmacist may be able to offer prescriptions to help you quit smoking as well, while ensuring you remain safe by checking for any potential interference with your current medication regimen. Your pharmacist can also work with you to develop an action plan that suits your needs and help to set goals and can provide support along this challenging journey. Patients that seek support from others when attempting to quit smoking are much more likely to succeed.

Additional Resources

QuitCore: A group support program that helps people quit smoking and connect with others who are quitting.

AlbertaQuits Helpline: Offers free counseling services from a quit counselor.

Greenshield Counselling: ARTA members can access up to five hours of health counselling for free each year, which includes help to quit smoking.


[1]World Health Organization.


[3]Government of Canada.

[4]World Health Organization.