May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, a day intended to raise awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco and to support individuals in their journey to be free of their dependence on commercial tobacco.
The harms associated with commercial tobacco use are well documented and experienced by those who smoke or vape. The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) wants to honour, recognize and celebrate the importance of traditional tobacco and the role it plays in First Nations cultures; here at the FNHA, we would like to recognize World No “Commercial" Tobacco Day.
Traditional Versus Commercial Use
As we continue to understand the nuances of traditional tobacco use in different Nations, it's important to recognize and respect that not all First Nations communities use traditional tobacco in ceremonies or as medicine. For some, traditional tobacco comes with teachings to connect them with their ancestors and to the spirit world.
Traditional tobacco is considered a sacred plant with immense healing and spiritual benefits, and the teachings that go hand in hand with sacred tobacco have the potential to benefit our overall wellness. However, when tobacco is used in a non-traditional manner, it can negatively impact our wellness journeys.
Help with Quitting Commercial Tobacco
We know commercial tobacco is harmful to our minds and bodies and reducing or quitting commercial tobacco can be a challenging journey for some people.
In April 2022, the FNHA, in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society and Ontario Health's Indigenous Cancer Care Unit, launched the Talk Tobacco program. The program offers culturally-safe, confidential support for quitting smoking, vaping, and commercial tobacco use to Indigenous people and communities in British Columbia (BC).
The path to quitting/reducing commercial tobacco doesn't look the same for everyone, which is why having a range of cessation services is crucial. Talk Tobacco's phone, live chat and text services connect smokers with a Quit Coach for real-time, personalized support wherever they are in their quitting journey. Free and confidential services can be accessed on an ad hoc or scheduled basis at the user's convenience.
A Talk Tobacco Quit Coach helps with creating a personalized quit plan and finding available supports and resources in your area. Callers can also schedule follow-up calls with their Quit Coach to check in and provide consistent support along the journey.
There are also many tools to support your quitting journey, including nicotine replacement therapies and other prescription medications that are covered under First Nations Health Benefits (see Quitting Commercial Tobacco FAQ).
For more information on how to access services, download the Talk Tobacco poster and Talk Tobacco postcard.
For more resources on the risks of smoking and vaping: