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Canadian Public Health Association

Policy and Advocacy Blog


Breastfeeding: A return on investment

August 17, 2015

Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed newborns and infants, and an important contributor to their health. It provides nutrition, boosts immunity, and fosters maternal–child bonding. Babies who are not breastfed or have been weaned early have an increased likelihood of contracting otitis media, gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, necrotizing enterocolitis, diabetes and asthma and of succumbing to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), while mothers who have not breastfed have an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Out with the smoke, in with the chew

August 17, 2015

For those of a certain age, you may remember when the “boys of summer” had a cheek full of “chaw” and their full attention on the next batter. Many of us assumed that chewing tobacco was a phenomenon unique to baseball that otherwise had passed into obscurity with the mounting evidence about nicotine addiction and chewing tobacco carcinogenicity. Unfortunately, chewing tobacco is still going strong!

Homelessness and public health

May 6, 2015

On any given night in Canada, 35,000 people find themselves homeless. These folks are a combination of youth, adults, elderly, and families with children, and are part of the more than 235,000 Canadians who live on the street at some point during a year. This number continues to rise in spite of the nearly $7 billion spent in 2014 on health care, justice, and social services to address homelessness. Although national data are lacking, cities are seeing increases in shelter use: rates in Greater Moncton increased by 8% between 2013 and 2014, while those in Winnipeg increased by 14% between 2008 and 2011. Vancouver reported the largest homeless population in city history in 2014.

Vaccine hesitancy

May 6, 2015

Recent headlines from across North America make it clear that some vaccine-preventable illnesses are making a comeback. First there was an outbreak of mumps in professional hockey teams, then over 100 cases of measles in 14 US states linked to the California Disneyland theme park, and now unrelated cases in Toronto, southern Ontario and Quebec. The majority of those infected had not been vaccinated against the disease. There was also a report of a vaccine-free day care as well as an Ottawa family of 7 (unvaccinated) children, all of whom contracted whooping cough!


Antimicrobial resistance in animal agriculture – Statement of Concern

July 15, 2014

Summer’s finally here and the scent of barbeque is wafting through neighbourhood backyards. On those ‘ques sizzle our favourite cuts of meat, being lovingly grilled to perfection. Idyllic … but, part of getting that cut of meat to the grill is making sure that the animal is healthy and well taken care of on the farm. To help achieve that goal, most farmers currently use antibiotics to reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak and promote growth. This approach is common animal husbandry practice in North America and elsewhere.

E-cigarettes – An update

April 16, 2014

A recent edition of the CPHA Health Digest contained a policy brief concerning the sale of e-cigarettes in Canada. We noted that there were limited data to substantiate any claims about e-cigarettes, including a lack of controlled studies demonstrating their efficacy as smoking cessation products. Since then, advocates against the sale of e-cigarettes remain adamant that the product threatens to re-normalize smoking, especially in youth, and use of e-cigarettes risks undoing years of smoking cessation gains. On the other hand, popular opinion, including many celebrity endorsements, supports their use as smoking cessation aids. There have also been a couple of developments that are worth mentioning.

Public health and austerity budgets – A conundrum

April 16, 2014

Federal Budget season is in full swing with the recent Budget Speech and the tabling of the Main Estimates. The message from our government is consistent: the federal Budget needs to be balanced before additional economic stimulus, probably tax cuts, can be applied. Several health organizations responded to the Budget by noting that prudent budgets are important, but prudence can include selected investments. In particular, the Canadian Coalition for Public Health in the 21st Century (co-chaired by CPHA) has noted the cost-effectiveness of public health measures.

Heroin – A drug of choice?

April 16, 2014

The recent deaths of actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Cory Monteith have brought media attention to the drug problem in North America. In both cases, the drug of choice appeared to be mixed drug cocktail, involving intravenous heroin use combined with other psychoactive substances.

Supervised consumption facilities – meeting a community need

January 31, 2014

Illegal psychoactive substances cover an array of products from cannabis to opioids to synthetic chemicals whose uses lie along a spectrum of activities from abstinence to addiction. Their use represents a complex and important legal, social and public health issue that requires a variety of intervention strategies based on the target populations. Prevention is the ideal to which we subscribe, while at the other extreme are people who use injection drugs over the long term and participate in unsafe injection practices. Supervised consumption facilities are one proven way of meeting the health and safety concerns raised by injection drug use.

E-cigarettes ‒ A smoking problem?

January 31, 2014

E-cigarettes are showing up everywhere. From our local pharmacies to pop-up ads on the web, both users and the media extol their benefits as cigarette replacements and smoking cessation devices. These products first entered the North American market in 2007 and have been steadily increasing in popularity to the point where sales are projected to reach $10B by 2017. The growth potential is so great that traditional cigarette manufacturers are entering the marketplace and buying up many of the smaller manufacturers.