People working to reduce smoking in Nova Scotia used today, WorldNo Tobacco Day, to announce that a provincial conference thisweek will celebrate the success of the province’s tobaccostrategy. The two-day conference, titled Nova Scotia Communities TakingAction, will be held in Antigonish on Thursday, June 3 andFriday, June 4. It was during the first Communities Taking Actionconference — in Clementsport on Oct. 11, 2002 — that NovaScotia launched its tobacco strategy. “We’re making great progress with our strategy and we’re alreadyseeing results, with a five per cent drop in our smoking ratesince 2001,” said Health Promotion Minister Rodney MacDonald. “Wehave many people to thank for this success. The strategy wasdeveloped and put into action by a wide variety of communitypartners. It is a model for our work in many other areas ofhealth promotion.” Nova Scotia’s tobacco strategy includes a combination oflegislation, tax increases, community-based action, youthprevention, social marketing, and help for people to quitsmoking. A similar approach in California, one of the world’s leaders intobacco reduction, has resulted in that state’s smoking ratedropping to historic lows. Between 1984 and 2003, California’sadult smoking rate dropped from 26 per cent to 16 per cent. Thisdecline in smoking coincided with a 14 per cent decrease in lungcancer rates. Dr. Dileep Bal, chief of the cancer control branch for theCalifornia Department of Health Services, is the keynote speakerat the Nova Scotia conference. He will talk about the Californiaexperience, share research and best practices and offer adviceand encouragement to the individuals and groups attending. The decline in California’s smoking and lung cancer rates can beattributed to the state’s comprehensive approach to tobaccocontrol, which includes in-your-face mass media campaigns,funding for local and state-wide programs, smoke-free laws,cessation programs, and holding the tobacco industry accountableby aggressively targeting their marketing practices. “California’s decline in smoking is one of the state’s greatestpublic health achievements. We’re now actually seeing long-termresults in the form of reduced lung cancer rates,” said Dr. Bal. “Nova Scotia is taking a similar approach with its tobaccostrategy and I encourage the province to continue these effortsto achieve similar results.” The conference will provide an opportunity for all those involvedin tobacco reduction efforts to take stock of their achievementsand to celebrate success. It will also be a forum for sharinginformation about what works and what needs to be done next inNova Scotia. “We’re very happy with what we’ve achieved in just two years,”said Nancy Hoddinott, tobacco manager with the Office of HealthPromotion and conference co-chair. “We need to continually remindourselves how far we’ve come and where we need to go. Reducingtobacco use in Nova Scotia will only happen through long-term,sustained efforts and funding, and through co-ordinated communityaction and partnerships. We have a lot more to do and we’ve builta very solid foundation.” The provincial tobacco conference is being planned and sponsoredby a partnership of organizations including the Coalition for aSmoke-Free Nova Scotia; Cancer Care Nova Scotia; Canadian CancerSociety — Nova Scotia Division; Heart and Stroke Foundation ofNova Scotia; the Nova Scotia Dental Association; Health Canada;Addiction Services and Public Health Services; Canadian Councilfor Tobacco Control; Doctors Nova Scotia; and the Nova ScotiaOffice of Health Promotion.