Prof leads campaign to reduce smoking

The following is a news release from Laurentian University about Prof. Sheila Hardy, a CRaNHR Faculty Investigator.


October 12, 2005

Laurentian University professor to lead national campaign to reduce smoking in First Nation and Inuit communities

Prof. Sheila Hardy, professor in Laurentian University’s Native Human Services Program, was recently nominated to the position of Chair of the First Nation and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy’s (FNITCS) National Advisory Circle. When selecting Prof. Hardy to lead this national committee, Health Canada recognized her dedication to the Circle and continued support of the core values of the FNITCS.

Sheila Hardy, an Anishnaabe-Kwe from northern Ontario, has been teaching at Laurentian University since 1994. She holds a Bachelor’s degree of Nursing Science and a Masters of Business Administration, and is currently a PhD candidate at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education in Toronto. Prof. Hardy has served on several boards such as the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Sudbury’s Shkagami-Kwe Health Centre, and is the former Health Director for the Union of Ontario Indians.

Smoking is a major public health issue and a leading cause of premature death affecting smokers and non-smokers in Canada. Tobacco-related illnesses and diseases are urgent issues in First Nations and Inuit communities, where smoking rates are more than double the rate for the rest of the country. According to 2004 study, 60% of on-reserve First Nations people between the age of 18 and 34 currently smoke; 70% of Inuit in the north between the ages of 18 and 45 currently smoke; 46% of Inuit who smoke started at age 14 or younger; and the majority of on-reserve First Nations who smoke (52%) started between the ages of 13 and 16.

As Chair of the National Advisory Circle, Prof. Hardy will support the objectives of the FNITCS. These include building capacity within First Nations and Inuit communities to develop and deliver comprehensive, culturally sensitive and effective tobacco control programs; promoting the health of First Nations and Inuit people by decreasing the prevalence of tobacco smoking and spit tobacco use, particularly among youth and pregnant women; decrease the uptake of smoking among youth; decrease the impacts of environmental tobacco smoke on the health of First Nations and Inuit; and engage the leadership of First Nations and Inuit in learning about, voicing opinions and supporting tobacco control strategies.

To attain these objectives, the FNITCS was allocated $50 million over a five year period, ending in 2005-2006. This year, several important items must be completed, including the evaluation of the FNITCS, the launch of the cessation social marketing campaign and consultations on the details of the next five years of the strategy. Ms. Hardy will provide the leadership necessary to guide the FNITCS into its second phase.

For more information, please call Prof. Sheila Hardy, Native Human Services professor at Laurentian University, at (705) 675-1151, ext. 5049 or shardy@laurentian.ca.