National Non-Smoking Week may not have been a name on everyone's lips as it was being celebrated last week. but then, neither were cigarettes.
And that's reason enough to have celebrated.
In 2010, 14 per cent of British Columbians were lighting up, the lowest rate in the country - a testament to the powers of education and societal pressure.
But we can do better - and we should. Tobacco products are the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, accounting for 85 per cent of all lung cancers and reducing the life expectancy of smoking women by an average of nine years.
The provincial government added smoking cessation products to its PharmaCare coverage in September, and since then, more than 63,000 British Columbians have already taken advantage of the offer.
That sounds great. until you realize there are an estimated 550,000 smokers in B.C., of whom 70 per cent say they would like to quit.
Victoria could do more to help them if it acted on last week's recommendation of the B.C. Lung Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, B.C. and Yukon, that the province should ban tobacco products from pharmacy shelves.
It is a double standard that pharmacies, dispensing medications and part of the health care system, should sell dangerous addictive substances.
Indeed, other than British Columbia, only Manitoba and the Yukon continue to allow such a practise in all of Canada.
Studies show that fewer outlets can be effective in reducing tobacco consumption.
Reducing tobacco consumption reduces health care costs.
Why is Victoria waiting?