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August 31, 2004
For immediate release
Island Vendors Receive New Signage to Discourage Sale of Tobacco to Minors
Health and Social Services
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Smoking rates among Island teens have dropped significantly, according to the recently-released Annual 2003 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey. The smoking rate of teens aged 15-19 years of age declined from 28 per cent in 1999 to 20 per cent in 2003. PEI has the fourth lowest rate of teen smoking of all the provinces and territories. New health message signs will also be posted where tobacco products are sold to remind the public of the harmful effects of both tobacco and secondhand smoke and the fact that most Islanders do not smoke.
Health and Social Services Minister Chester Gillan says the drop in smoking rates is attributable to a variety of initiatives of the PEI Tobacco Reduction Alliance (PETRA).
“PETRA and government have worked together on many projects aimed at reducing tobacco consumption,” the minister noted. Projects include the Smoke-Free Homes Campaign; the SWITCH Clubs, high school tobacco use prevention clubs; Quit & Win - Don’t Start and Win, a campaign that encouraged youth to either pledge to stop using tobacco products for the month of May, or to stay tobacco-free for the month; comprehensive smoking cessation programs easily accessed by calling 1-888-818-6300; and the PEI Smoke-free Places Act.
Minister Gillan says the new signage will heighten the awareness of those who may purchase tobacco products for minors, or who may sell tobacco products to minors, that they are breaking the law. The signs also support PETRA’s efforts to reduce tobacco use in PEI.
“The new signs were developed in consultation with store owners, parents, and teenagers to determine the best way to get the message across. Studies show that 56 per cent of teenaged smokers are not purchasing tobacco products directly from stores, they are getting them through family and friends. We need to remind people that this is not a acceptable practice.”
The signs also include the toll free number for Crime Stoppers. The organization has partnered with the Department of Health and Social Services to make it easier for people to support the enforcement of the Tobacco Sales To Minors Act. Islanders can now call the toll-free Crime Stoppers hot line if they see retailers selling tobacco to youth or observe others buying tobacco for someone under 19 years of age. The Crime Stoppers toll-free number is 1-800-222-TIPS.
Paul Stetson, Coordinator of PEI Crime Stoppers, says that the partnership for the Tobacco Sales to Minors Act is part of the organizations newest initiative.
“PEI Crime Stoppers is partnering with a variety of community groups and government departments to focus on youth related programs. By empowering them to take charge of their own environments, we can reduce the incidence of crimes by youth in our schools and in our communities,” Stetson stated.
More information about PEI Crime Stoppers is available on the Web at www.peicrimestoppers.pe.ca.