Pair smoke out honours

Smoking is the No. 1 cause of premature death and a leading cause of preventable hospitalization. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use kills more than five million people a year – an average of one person every six seconds – and accounts for one in 10 adult deaths.

Interior Health recently chose May 31 – World No Tobacco Day – to recognize those who are making a difference in tobacco reduction.

The Smoke Free Champions for Change Awards recognize community members and Interior Health staff who have gone beyond their regular everyday work to reduce tobacco use by preventing people from starting to use tobacco, helping people to stop using tobacco and reducing exposure to second-hand smoke.

“These awards are not only about recognizing the great work that is being done to promote tobacco reduction,” said Trish Hill, senior tobacco reduction coordinator, “they are also about sharing ideas and inspiring others to take action.”

Lumby teacher and counsellor Steve Plecas is among the community winners.

Plecas, according to Interior Health, saw the value in providing assistance to youth who wanted to quit smoking. Plecas started a Kick the Nic program for students in Lumby that assists youth to either cut down or quit smoking.

Also among the community winners is Vernon’s Dr. Chris Cunningham, a hard-working and caring physician who passionately goes above and beyond for smoking cessation.

He has been a huge support to Fulton Secondary School’s Kick the Nic program. Over the past four years, Cunningham has organized many events at Fulton, Vernon Jubilee Hospital, and even his office.

Cunningham’s dedication to smoking cessation is evident by the time he gives to students in his already busy day.

Interior Health encourages citizens to do their part to promote and support tobacco reduction.

For more information on how you can get involved in Tobacco Reduction efforts in your community, contact the Interior Health Tobacco Reduction Program at