Games go smoke free

Smokers won't be lighting up anywhere near Canada Winter Games athletes during the February competition, thanks to a new Prince George partnership.

Health Minister Terry Lake announced Wednesday the games will be a smoke-free event and Mayor Lyn Hall signed the official proclamation.

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That means there will be no designated smoking areas at any of the sporting venues, coupled by an increased presence of Northern Health staffers promoting ways to quit.

"It is not just about the person smoking the cigarettes or chewing tobacco, but also the people around them that are affected by the second- or third-hand smoke," said Sandra Allison, Northern Health's chief medical health officer in the release. "We want to keep all residents safe and having smoke-free games will help accomplish this goal."

Allison said the number of people using cigarettes in B.C. is dropping and at 16.2 per cent, according to Lake, they are the lowest in Canada.

A 2013 report by the Canadian Cancer Society showed an average of 17.3 per cent of Canadians smoke, and that youth are more likely smoke, with the highest among 20 to 24 year olds at 23.8 per cent.

Northern Health will be encouraging use of the Smoking Cessation program, which provides

up to 12 weeks of nicotine replacement therapy products at no cost.

Canada Winter Games chief executive officer Stu Ballantyne said the move highlights a healthy lifestyle the event hopes to support.

"The 2015 Canada Winter Games wants to encourage people to think about ways they can improve their health, including getting more active, making healthier food choices, and recognizing the harm caused by their tobacco use," he said.

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