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22 April 2015

Charlottetown, PE -

Islanders want action to reduce cancer rates on P.E.I.

In a survey conducted by the Canadian Cancer Society, Islanders voiced strong opinions about cancer, including calls for a ban on cosmetic pesticides and flavoured tobacco products.   

More than 1,600 people completed the on-line survey this past week knowing their opinions will be shared with candidates in the upcoming provincial election.

“It’s clear, people on P.E.I. want more action and less rhetoric when it comes to cancer care and prevention,” says board chair Ken Hubley.   “In addition to answering specific questions, hundreds of Islanders shared thoughtful comments and made useful suggestions.”

Eighty-three percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that tobacco is a contributing factor to high cancer rates in Prince Edward Island. 

The province of Nova Scotia recently enacted legislation to ban the sale of flavoured tobacco, 85% of respondents say government should do the same here.  Many commented that flavoured tobacco targets young people causing serious nicotine addiction.

Because municipalities are limited in their power to regulate and enforce the use of cosmetic pesticides in their communities, 84% support the Canadian Cancer Society’s call for a provincial ban on cosmetic pesticides.  This comprehensive ban would prohibit the use of pesticides on lawns, golf courses and parks.

Many respondents believe government should act decisively to provide resources and legislation to help prevent cancer while others point out it's not only up to government.  One person described opportunities for social change that exist at community levels, recommending a collaborative model that has everyone at the table. 

Pharmacists on P.E.I. agree with this approach.  P.E.I. Pharmacists Association’s executive director, Erin MacKenzie, says their members can play a significant role in cancer prevention.  

“Perhaps the most important step a person can take to improve their health is to quit smoking,” says MacKenzie. “Pharmacists are in a prime position to provide assistance, advice and support to those trying to quit. With recent changes in legislation, pharmacists can now prescribe medications which will greatly improve access to smoking cessation aides.”

The survey recorded strong support for the hiring of a cancer epidemiologist in this province. 94% of respondents believe it’s important for government to provide the resources needed to discover the factors that contribute to P.E.I.’s higher death rates among some cancers.

Cancer survivor Charles Keliher echoes this sentiment.  “We have to get at the root cause of the problem.  Too many people are suffering when loved ones die. We have to find out why mortality rates for some types of cancer are higher here than in the rest of Canada,” says Keliher.

The Canadian Cancer Society plans to share information gathered in the survey with candidates in the up-coming election.  Strengthened by the opinions expressed by so many Islanders, the Society will continue its advocacy efforts with the government chosen on May 4th.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada.

Full survey results are available here.

 

For more information, please contact:

Lori Barker

Executive Director

Phone: 902-566-4007