Islanders debate quitting smoking


By Letre Sweeting

Jan. 18, 2016

Stephane Bonsant is not happy about the National Non-Smoking Week.

People should be free to smoke when they choose to, he said.

his brother smoked around him at a young age, which caused him to start smoking.

When Bonsant was 12, his brother offered him a cigarette. Bonsant took it and smoked it.

“Because it was my brother I said, yeah sure.”

LS Tobacco
Julien Cormier smoking a cigarette outside his apartment in Charlottetown on Jan. 19. Letre Sweeting photo.

At 19, Bonsant is still smoking.

“It relieves my stress and the craving.”

He finds quitting hard and not beneficial to him right now, he said.

“I have severe anxiety sometimes. When I feel anxious, I smoke a cigarette, it helps. Maybe I’ll quit in the future. I don’t know.”

Bonsant now smokes at least a pack of cigarettes every day.

Bonsant is among a decreasing number of smokers on Prince Edward Island. Most start smoking in their teens and end up addicted as adults. Though quitting is a difficult habit to break, if you really want to quit, it is possible to improve smoking habits.

Between 2010 and 2014, the percentage of smokers aged 15 and older has dropped from 23.6 per cent to 19.7 per cent, said Statistics Canada.

People who smoked every day reported smoking an average of 13.9 cigarettes each day. This rate has gone down slightly since the average of 15 cigarettes each day reported in 2012.


Julien Cormier is happy with the decreased number of Canadian smokers.

He started using tobacco because his friends and most of his family smoked.

So he tried it, because he wanted to fit in, but he got addicted.

“Smoking hasn’t been a positive influence on my life. I was just replacing one addiction with another,” he said.

He smoked 15 cigarettes every day, but he had a very important reason to stop.

“I wanted to be healthier and a be a good influence for my kids.”

Cormier is a single parent with two children.

He realized he needed help when he developed a cancerous growth on his chest that is now removed.

Now 30, he still smokes, but is smoking less and trying to quit. He is a Marketing and Advertising student at Holland College and is doing an internship at the Canadian Cancer Society.

Tammy Gallant is coordinator at the P.E.I. Tobacco Reduction Alliance, or PETRA. It is looking for students who have used tobacco in the last 30 days for a focus group aimed at, figuring out ways to reduce the rate of smoking in young adults.

“What we’ve done thus far is we’ve been working with high school students for the young market. This is our first time in regards to the college/university age group.”

PETRA created a strategic plan in 2013. The five-year program plan, included different goals, audiences and objectives to focus on throughout the five-year period.

“We’ve decided to focus on youth and young adults 24 years old and below, for both prevention and cessation.”

Gallant hopes to find ways to end smoking among youth on P.E.I.

A report by Smokers Helpline Canada said today nearly 27,793 Islanders are smokers. This represents 19 per cent of the population 15 years and older.

Between 2014-2016 smoking has dropped 0.7 per cent in P.E.I.