The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, announced an important investment that will help encourage Northern Canadians, including expecting mothers, to quit smoking and lead healthier lives. Health Canada is providing Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami with $350,000 for a project that will help expectant moms and new mothers make healthy living choices. This investment is part of the over $6.3 million in new Government of Canada funding to support a variety of tobacco initiatives and activities across the country and which builds on the Government's existing support for on-going projects aimed at reducing tobacco use among Canadians.

"The Government of Canada continues working to protect Canadians from the proven health hazards associated with tobacco use," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Today's funding is a step towards providing more women with the help they need to quit smoking."

Funding from today's announcement will help bring the "Born Smoke-Free" program to the four Inuit regions across Canada. This program will help expectant moms and new mothers quit smoking. The program will train community health workers to deliver the program; engage elders in mentoring expectant moms and new mothers; raise awareness of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke; and increase the number of smoke-free homes in Inuit communities.

"The Born Smoke-Free program will help us and our regional partners reach out to Inuit families and support them in building healthier lives," said National Inuit Leader Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. "This program is not about babies alone - it is about mothers and fathers and grandparents and entire communities. It is about spreading the habit-forming power of wellness."

World No Tobacco Day (May 31) is a World Health Organization initiative that draws global attention to the prevalence of tobacco use and to its negative health effects. This year's theme, "Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women," aims to create awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco marketing aimed at women and girls.

In addition to other target populations, the Government of Canada continues to reach out to pregnant women about the dangers of tobacco use and second-hand smoke. When a pregnant woman smokes, the fetus gets less oxygen and nutrients. Studies show that regular exposure to second-hand smoke may harm both the mother and the baby.

Tobacco use is the single biggest cause of preventable disease, disability and premature death in Canada. It has negative effects on nearly every organ of the body. Every year, at least 37,000 Canadians die from the effects of smoking, while many others are diagnosed with related illnesses such as heart disease, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. For more information on Health Canada's tobacco control efforts, please visit: gosmokefree.gc.

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