Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in Canada.
In Canada, young adults aged 18 to 24 who identify as LGBTQI2S+ are more likely to use tobacco compared to heterosexual individuals of the same age. Many factors can contribute to smoking and tobacco use, including discrimination, inequalities and higher rates of violence related to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Today, during National Non-Smoking Week, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced an investment of up to $2,840,767 to support the University of Toronto’s All Together Now! project. The university is developing a social marketing and smoking cessation initiative in collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Society, Egale Canada and members of LGBTQI2S+ communities.
This project will focus on helping members of LGBTQI2S+ communities quit smoking and lead healthier lives. The project aims to support an estimated 114,000 members of LGBTQI2S+ communities in Toronto and Thunder Bay, Ontario, as well as in Montréal, Quebec.
All Together Now! aims to address the higher rates of tobacco use among members of LGBTQI2S+ communities through a combination of targeting social media messaging, working with local champions and social influencers, developing online resources, and participating in local events within LGBTQI2S+ communities. The project will also offer tobacco cessation programming along with resources and supports to respond to some of the challenges that can contribute to smoking. For example, free nicotine replacement therapy will be available to address possible income inequalities and social media will be used to address social factors that lead to smoking such as stigma and social inclusion.
In addition to this funding, as part of Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program, the Government of Canada is also providing approximately $1.3 million over 36 months to the University of Toronto’s Ontario Tobacco Research Unit to develop and implement interventions for youth and young adults (aged 16 to 29) vaping cessation. This investment aligns with the objectives of Canada’s Tobacco Strategy, which aims to reduce tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035. This target is supported by a federal investment of $330 million over five years to help Canadians quit smoking and to continue to protect young people and non-smokers from nicotine addiction.