September 19, 2002

York Region receives funding for tobacco campaign

NEWMARKET - York Region is pleased to announce it has received $247,000 from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to fund a York Region Chinese and Italian Tobacco Awareness Campaign. This program will be one of the largest ethno-specific tobacco awareness campaigns to be undertaken in partnership by a local municipality and the provincial ministry.

York Region Health Services submitted the successful grant application in response to the limited tobacco awareness resources available to meet the needs of the Chinese and Italian communities in York Region. Funding will be spread out over a two-year period.

"York Region acknowledges and celebrates the rich diversity of cultures and languages within our borders," said Bill Fisch, Regional Chair and CEO. "This funding takes great strides in our commitment to ensure that the programs and services we offer are easily accessed by all of our residents."

"We are delighted with this announcement," added Vaughan Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Chair of the York Region Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee and Co-Chair of the York Region Chinese and Italian Tobacco Awareness Campaign advisory committee. "It is widely documented that tobacco-related illnesses are preventable, yet current mainstream anti-tobacco messages are neither accessible nor culturally-sensitive to the needs of unique language populations. This campaign offers the opportunity to change that."

Markham Regional Councillor Tony Wong, Campaign advisory committee Co-Chair, agreed. "A strong educational campaign is key to changing smoking attitudes and behaviours in our society. We identified the need for culturally-sensitive anti-tobacco materials in our Chinese and Italian populations and will begin to meet that need through this important and ground-breaking campaign."

"York Region Health Services considers tobacco a public health priority," said Dr. Hanif Kassam, Director, Public Health Programs and Associate Medical Officer of Health. "Tobacco-related illnesses are the leading preventable cause of death, disease and disability in Ontario and Canada. This campaign allows us to partner with our Chinese and Italian communities to help make that statistic a thing of the past."

Key features of the York Region Chinese and Italian Tobacco Awareness Campaign include:

York Region Health Services is considered a leader in Chinese anti-tobacco education. In 2000, the York Region Chinese Anti-Tobacco Public Education Coalition, in collaboration with the Town of Markham and York Region Health Services, received funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care under the Ontario Tobacco Strategy to develop the first Chinese tobacco media and awareness campaign in Ontario. And in 2001, York Region Health Services developed a multi-faceted Chinese education campaign to promote awareness of the York Region No-Smoking By-law.

The Chinese and Italian populations are the largest ethno-specific groups identified in York Region. At present, the Chinese community represents approximately 25 per cent of York Region's population while the Italian community represents over 50 per cent of the City of Vaughan and 17 per cent of the Town of Richmond Hill.

The York Region Chinese and Italian Tobacco Awareness Campaign will be managed by York Region Health Services, with guidance from an advisory committee comprised of members drawn from the Chinese and Italian communities.

For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at:


Contact: Kim Clark, York Region Health Services

The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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