Traditional and Non-Traditional Tobacco Use • FNHA Tobacco Use Podcasts • Help with Quitting Commercial Tobacco • Tobacco Timeout Challenge
For thousands of years, natural tobacco has been an integral part of Aboriginal culture in many parts of British Columbia and Canada. Used in ritual, ceremony and prayer, tobacco was considered a sacred plant with immense healing and spiritual benefits. For these reasons, the tobacco plant should be treated with great respect.
We should also be very careful not to confuse traditional tobacco and its sacred uses with commercial tobacco and the addiction epidemic we see today.
FNHA animation about the difference between traditional and commercial tobacco (video, 8.26 mins)
When tobacco is used in a non-traditional manner it can cause lung diseases, lung cancer, mouth cancer, heart disease, cancers of the upper respiratory tract and risks during pregnancy. Non-traditional tobacco use includes smoking cigarettes and hookahs and using smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco, snuff and snus.
One of the main reasons people smoke – and why it is so hard to stop – is the addiction to nicotine. Many people also develop an emotional dependence on smoking.
FNHA video on the traditional uses of tobacco (video, 3.48 mins)
Secondhand smoke is the smoke that comes from the burning end of commercial cigarettes or tobacco. It can be very harmful to you and your family's health. When you smoke inside your home or car, the smoke gets trapped in the fabric and carpets, causing it to linger for a long time – sometimes up to two years. This means that not only is the smoke harmful to anyone in the room at the time of smoking, but also anyone that comes into the room afterwards.
Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, many of which are linked to lung and heart disease, ear infections, breathing problems and weakened immune systems. Secondhand smoke also has a link to higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome for infants who are exposed.
FNHA Tobacco Use Podcasts
Smokestack Sandra is an FNHA tobacco-cessation podcast that shares the personal journey of a respected northern First Nations leader as she commits to quitting commercial cigarettes. The candid and humorous three-part podcast tracks Sandra Teegee, Deputy Chief of Takla Lake First Nation, over a series of weeks with personal stories and a number of guest speakers.
(left) Sandra Teegee at 23, before she began smoking; (right) Sandra Teegee today
Tobacco Nation is a four-part podcast series featuring candid and moving stories about tobacco. All stories are told by First Nations people living in BC. The episodes explore tobacco through a unique lens: cancer, community, tradition and youth.
The podcast series includes cameos from First Nations surgeon and academic Dr. Nadine Caron, UBC's Dr. Lee Brown, FNHA former CEO Joe Gallagher, FNHA former Director of Mental Wellness Patricia Vickers and a number of other First Nations Elders and community members with compelling stories to share.
By touching on various aspects of tobacco use via personal stories, Tobacco Nation strives to begin the practice of sharing our personal experiences with tobacco in order to inform, educate and inspire one another.
Tobacco Nation is hosted by Wawmeesh Hamilton, award-winning reporter and member of the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni
Long-term commercial tobacco use can do immense damage to your body, mind and spirit. The long list of diseases that tobacco use causes are well known and well documented. What many people don't know is that much of this damage can be undone by quitting tobacco. Even if you have been using commercial tobacco for many years, you can still improve your health by quitting today.
Everybody has something to gain from quitting commercial tobacco – and the health benefits begin almost immediately. There's also smelling better, looking better, feeling better and being richer! And you'll be an amazing role model and leader to your family and community.
Quit aids, such as the patch, nicotine gum or prescription medicine can double your odds of successfully quitting. There are many different quit aids on the market but the two most commonly used are:
You can get free NRT products and prescription medication through the BC Smoking Cessation Program and
FNHA Health Benefits.
For questions about coverage, please contact FNHA Health Benefits (phone toll-free: 1-855-550-5454 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The first step toward quitting commercial tobacco for good is to decide that you want to go for it. Once you have made that decision, the next step is to make a plan.
Set a date, be aware of your triggers (things that make you want to smoke, such as morning coffee, hanging out with friends and so on) and prepare healthy snacks and other items to help you through your quit.
Tips on creating a plan can be found on the website
QuitNow.ca, BC's free quitting resource site. To get the best use of the site, create an account (it's free) and try out the Quit Plan tool, which walks you through each step of preparation you will need to quit smoking with success.
Information on setting a quit date, identifying your smoking “triggers," managing cravings and coping with withdrawal can all be found on the site.
It is always helpful to talk about your decision to quit with a health professional, a quit coach, an Elder or even a family member or friend. Talk to someone who knows what you are going through and can give you support and guidance. Professional “quit coaches" are available by phone or instant chat, 24 hours a day, on the website
QuitNow.ca, BC's free quitting resource site.
It generally takes at least three serious attempts at quitting before a person becomes a lifetime non-smoker and for many people it takes six or more tries. If you are not successful the first time you try to quit, don't give up. Learn from the experience and get back on track right away. Some people can quit on the first try and some find it takes many attempts before they are successful. It is your personal journey so do not give up, keep trying and you will get there.
Your body starts to recover almost immediately after you quit smoking:
If you want to support a family member, friend or loved one with their quitting journey, here are some tips and resources to help:
Mental Health and Wellness Team