Mr. Speaker, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Canada, accounting for 45,000 deaths each year.
We know that 85% of all adults who smoke started the habit before the age of 18. Smoking rates for Canadian youth are increasing at an alarming rate. Twenty-nine per cent of 15 to 19 year olds now smoke, and in some groups, like the Inuit for instance, around 71% of youth are smoking.
I would like to welcome to Ottawa 17 young people from across Canada. They are all members of the newly established youth advisory committee on tobacco issues which will be advising the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Children and Youth on smoking and tobacco issues from a young person's perspective.
These youths were selected on the basis of their work in their own communities and their interest and experience in discouraging tobacco use by their peers. We look forward to their input on this life and death issue.