Live Smoke Free

Everyone knows tobacco use isn’t healthy. What many people may not fully understand is the wide-ranging impact tobacco use has in causing cancer and other diseases. While quitting or reducing smoking is difficult, the health benefits are substantial. One year after quitting smoking, the risk of a smoking-related heart attack is reduced by half. Ten years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is almost halved. Live smoke-free to reduce your cancer risk (PDF). CancerCare Manitoba has collected the following data in an effort to raise awareness about the effects of tobacco use and encourage quitting or reduction.*

Smoking by Populations

  • Tobacco use is the most significant risk factor for cancer, and is responsible for approximately 22% of worldwide cancer-related deaths.
  • An estimated 30% of all cancer deaths in Canada are caused by smoking.
  • A 2015 survey revealed 19% of Manitobans smoked.
  • Twelve per cent of Manitoba students in grades 7 to 12 smoked, according to surveys between 2012-14.
  • Smoking rates are higher among on-reserve First Nations and Inuit people. Of those First Nations adults living on reserves, 57% smoke commercial tobacco daily or occasionally. In the Inuit adult population, 61% use tobacco daily or occasionally. (Note: traditional tobacco used in ceremonies is different than commercial tobacco.)

How Smoking Affects Your Body

  • Smoking increases the risk of 18 different types of cancer. The link between smoking and lung cancer is the strongest, with 85% of lung cancer cases in Canada caused by smoking.
  • Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, which is associated with the heart or blood vessels. It causes one of every three deaths from cardiovascular disease.
  • Smoking causes an estimated 80% of deaths involving chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which relates to the lungs.
  • A smoker’s life expectancy is reduced by more than 10 years compared to non-smokers.
  • Smoking can decrease fertility, and increase the risk of pregnancy complications. Some studies have found a link between smoking during pregnancy and tissue damage in the unborn baby, and between smoking and miscarriage.

Methods of Tobacco Use

While the most common form of tobacco is cigarettes, smoking cigars/cigarillos or using pipes, hookah and smokeless (non-combustible) tobacco such as chewing tobacco, snuff and snus also causes cancer.

Here are some facts about the different methods of tobacco use:

  • Smokeless forms of tobacco may contain more than 3,000 chemicals, including 28 carcinogens (chemicals that cause cancer).
  • Although smokeless tobacco isn’t associated with lung cancer, it does increase the risk of oral cancers (lip, tongue and cheek, floor and roof of the mouth), esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer.
  • Smoking cigars causes cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, lung, esophagus and pancreas.
  • Smoking pipe tobacco causes cancers such as oral, throat, esophageal, laryngeal, lung and colorectal.
  • Smoking tobacco with a water pipe known as a hookah or shisha is linked with increased risk of cancers such as oral, lung, stomach and esophagus. Smokers may actually absorb even more toxic substances because of the way a hookah is used.
  • A small cigarette called a bidi, usually flavoured and imported from southern and southeast Asia, has more nicotine than regular cigarettes. Smoking these is linked with an increased risk of developing oral, lung, stomach and esophageal cancer.

Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or vapes, are devices that use liquid “juice” – with or without flavours and nicotine – to produce a vapour rather than smoke.

E-cigarettes haven’t been approved as a smoking-cessation method and the risks and benefits of their use aren’t known because of a lack of long-term studies conducted by non-industry researchers. There is evidence of potentially hazardous chemicals and particles of metals in the liquid.

Many provinces regulate the sale of e-cigarettes and where vaping can take place in public places.

The Canadian government tabled a bill in November 2016 that would regulate the manufacturing, sale, labelling and promotion of e-cigarettes and vaping products under the Tobacco Act.

Second and third-hand Smoke

Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is a known cause of several cancers and other health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

Third-hand smoke consists of residual nicotine and chemicals found on surfaces long after exposure to tobacco smoke, and is resistant to normal cleaning. Exposure to third-hand smoke may increase the risk of tobacco-related health problems, but the extent of its dangers is unknown because it’s a relatively new area of research.


While marijuana usually doesn’t contain tobacco, the smoke from marijuana does have many of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke.

Though there is limited research linking smoking marijuana to cancer and other health risks, some studies suggest that long-term marijuana use increases the risk of cancer, particularly lung, head and neck.

(These statistics have been compiled using sources such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada, First Nations organizations and Manitoba health surveys.)

Now is a Great Time to Quit Smoking

It’s easy for people to say smoking is bad for you. It’s harder to actually quit. CancerCare Manitoba wants to give smokers, particularly cancer patients, the support and medication they need to stop smoking through the Quit Smoking program. This free, personalized program is available for CCMB staff, patients and their family members.

Why Cancer Patients Should Quit Smoking

Evidence shows that quitting will improve your health, and your body’s response to treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery.

The impact from quitting includes: 

  • fewer and less serious side effects
  • faster recovery time
  • increased success of treatment
  • lower risk of infection
  • more energy
  • decreased risk of recurrence and secondary cancers
  • longer survival
  • better quality of life

How the Program Works

Participants will learn strategies to identify their triggers for smoking and how they can manage cravings.
Through the use of a smoking and craving journal, participants will monitor their tobacco use by keeping a cravings diary. They’ll record when they have a cigarette and under what circumstances so they can track their smoking habits.
Appointments are also made to monitor carbon monoxide levels in the body.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you or your family members would like to join, or call CancerCare Manitoba’s quit team at 204-787-8770 or toll free at 1-888-775-9899.