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10 Anti-Tobacco Champions Celebrated During Non-Smoking Week
The Lung Association & Heart and Stroke Foundation recognize

community leadership on tobacco issues

VANCOUVER - January 18, 2013 - A fearless smoke-free housing advocate, a trailblazing post-secondary institution, and a retired city councillor are among 10 individuals and organizations recognized as 2013 Champions for Tobacco-Free Living Award Winners by the BC Lung Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation (BC & Yukon).

The awards, launched for the first time this year, will be presented during National Non-Smoking Week (January 20 to 26, 2013). Winners were nominated by community members, public health staff and health care professionals in BC, all of whom felt their nominees were making great advances to clear the air of second-hand smoke, help people quit and encourage British Columbians to stay tobacco-free.

“Recent headlines have many thinking the most pressing public health concerns are obesity and lack of physical activity, or perhaps illegal drug use. All are important. However, the leading cause of preventable death in BC is tobacco-related illness,” says Scott McDonald, CEO, BC Lung Association. “Thanks to Champions like these we continue to make progress on this important issue.”

British Columbia has some of the strongest tobacco control legislation in Canada and the lowest smoking rate (14 percent) of any province or territory. Still, there is more work to be done – and these 10 Champions are helping lead the way.

“We feel it’s extremely important to honour and acknowledge the important work being done by individuals and organizations to affect positive change on tobacco issues. We hope to inspire others to do the same,” adds Diego Marchese, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation (BC & Yukon). “Reducing tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke are amongst the most important measures available to increase overall public health.”

2013 List of Champion fo Tobacco-Free Award Winners

PHOTO ALBUM of 2013 Award Winners (more photos coming)

In alphabetical order by organization name or surname:

Ray Ali

As the regional manager for The Medicine Shoppe, a tobacco-free pharmacy chain, Ray is committed to improving and increasing pharmacists’ ability to help customers become tobacco-free and manage their chronic health challenges. Since joining the pharmacy chain seven years ago, Ray has put his entrepreneurial strengths to work, helping establishing a course in quit smoking counselling for pharmacists, as well as developing partnerships with the BC Lung Association QuitNow Team, the Canadian Mental Health Association and others. Based on the program’s success, Ray is currently furthering plans to take the training national. Download Ray's full story

Dr. Fred Bass

Dr. Bass has fought the dangers of tobacco use at all levels from advocating smoke-free workplaces, to helping smokers to quit, to rallying against the only industry allowed to market a lethal product that kills its users. Originally from the US, Dr. Bass joined the Vancouver Health Department in 1975. Soon after, he collaborated with the BC Medical Association to founded its Tobacco and Illness Committee. This trailblazing group of physicians helped reframe thinking on tobacco addiction as an epidemic, tobacco as a dangerous product and the tobacco industry as a main propagator of the epidemic. In 1989, he founded the ‘BC Doctors’ Stop-Smoking Program’ to help BC doctors help their patients to stop smoking. In 1997, the program evolved into ‘the Society for Clinical Preventive Care’, which sought until 2007 to make all effective forms of clinical prevention a reality. He continues fighting today, tireless in his efforts to make a difference.

Download Dr. Bass's full story.

Rose Marie Borutski

Rose Marie suffers from limited mobility and endurance due to chronic health issues. In 2007, due to worsening health, she began to search for an affordable social housing solution on a ‘Persons-with-Disability’ income. She found Kiwanis Park Place, a social housing complex near Crescent Beach, and accepted rental of what she understood to be a smoke-free unit. Upon settling in, however, Rose Marie found herself surrounded by smokers and at the centre of the latest battleground in the fight against tobacco: other people's homes. Today, Rose Marie is a leading advocate and trailblazer in the fight for increased smoke-free housing options. Download Rose Marie's full story

Dr. Peter Coy

A retired oncologist and long-standing advocate for tobacco-free living, Dr. Coy supports any and all efforts to reduce British Columbians use of and exposure to tobacco, be it by backing increased tobacco cessation support funding, or speaking out in favour of tougher tobacco legislation and policies. Dr. Coy’s crowning achievement was leading the Capital Regional District’s Smoke-Free Task Force since the late 1980s. The task force worked tirelessly to implement smoking bans in all public places in Victoria and its surrounding areas, and was the first region in Canada to do so. They also succeeded in increasing school education, prevention and quit smoking programs and building public awareness of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke in homes and vehicles, particularly on children. Download Dr. Coy's full story

Grouse Mountain Resort

The first BC resort to declare itself smoke-free in 2009, Grouse Mountain is committed to promoting a health-oriented, family-friendly environment. Now in their fifth year as a smoke-free resort, Grouse Mountain is frequently asked to share lessons learned with other BC resorts considering changes to their tobacco policies and continues to support employees’ efforts to quit by making them aware of free support available and subsidizing quit-smoking aids. The largest youth employer on Vancouver’s North Shore, and host to more than a million visitors per year, Grouse Mountain’s smoke-free status makes an important public statement about the serious hazards of tobacco use. 

Download Grouse Mountain's full story

Errol Povah

A lifelong anti-tobacco activist, Errol was best known in years past for his alter ego, ‘The Grim Reaper,’ who would attend public events where tobacco products were promoted to raise awareness of cigarette makers’ subversive youth marketing strategies. Today, Errol heads Airspace Action on Smoking and Health, a citizens advocacy group with whom he continues his tireless fight to put cigarette makers out of business. Under the Airspace umbrella, he embarked on his ‘Journey for a Tobacco-Free World’ in 2010, a cross-country journey on foot from Vancouver Island to Imperial Tobacco’s headquarters in Montreal to draw attention to tobacco use issues. Download Errol's full story

Fraser Street Apartments, a Raincity Housing Site

A provider of housing and support solutions for people living with mental illness and addictions, Raincity Housing manages one of BC’s few 100% smoke-free public housing facilities: Fraser Street Apartments. In 2009, Fraser Street Apartments underwent a one-year smoke-free pilot program. At the time, 19 of 21 residents were smokers. Today, Fraser Street Apartments is one of BC’s only 100% smoke-free social housing sites. Committed to providing a safe, healthy, smoke-free environment for their tenants, management and staff are changing public perceptions about the possibilities in a social housing environment.  Download Fraser Street Apartments' full story

Dan McQuarrie

A retired city councillor and outspoken advocate for smoke-free public places, Dan’s many credits include helping to implement Salmon Arm’s first bylaw on smoking restrictions in 1989 and establishing Salmon Arm’s Coalition for Health, which is a multi-disciplinary committee of community members and health professionals dedicated to reducing harm from second hand smoke. An advocate on tobacco issues for more than 30 years, Today Dan remains as committed as ever. His current focus is the promotion of a Smoke-Free Parks and Beaches bylaw for Salmon Arm. Download Dan's full story.

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Wellness Centre & Respiratory Therapy Department

Since its Wellness Centre was established in 2004, TRU has become one of BC’s most active and innovative post-secondary institutions regarding tobacco issues. During the past eight years, TRU’s Wellness Centre team, together with the university’s Respiratory Therapy Department, have improved student and staff access to quit smoking resources, expanded campus-wide smoke-free policies, and fostered partnerships between faculties such as Nursing and Social Work to deliver quit smoking campaigns that serve as both student learning and mentoring opportunities. Download TRU's full story.

Leonard Ward

An elder with the Stellat'en First Nation in Fraser Lake, Leonard played a key role in the development of BC’s community-based Aboriginal Tobacco Strategy, which he continues to promote today. He also speaks regularly at conferences and directly with individuals on the ceremonial versus recreational misuse of tobacco. Leonard’s role as a spiritual healer, as well as his personal experience as someone formerly addicted to tobacco, makes him a trusted and respected resource on health issues for BC’s aboriginal community where smoking rates are as much as three times the provincial average.

Download Leonard's full story.

About the BC Lung Association
The BC Lung Association (, a non‐profit, non‐governmental organization, is dedicated to preventing lung disease, helping people manage lung disease and promoting lung health.

Media Contact

Katrina van Bylandt, Communications Manager, BC Lung Association
T 604.731.5864 TF 1.800.665.5864 C 778.772.4788 E

About the Heart and Stroke Foundation
The Heart and Stroke Foundation (, a volunteer‐based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

Media Contact

Erika Callowhill, Director, Marketing & Communications

BC & Yukon, Heart and Stroke Foundation
T 604.737.3420 F 604.736.8732 E


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