We are greatly saddened to learn that Heather Crowe, this great Canadian, has lost her fight to cancer. We will continue, in her honour, to advocate for a smoke-free Canada.
An ardent fighter for a smoke-free environment, Heather Crowe's fame grew after she appeared in a 2003 Health Canada television commercial that warned of the dangers of second-hand tobacco smoke.
The commercial carried a personal meaning for Ms. Crowe: In 2002, she had been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Although never a smoker herself, forty years of work in smoke-filled Ottawa restaurants led to the fatal diagnosis. In 2002, Ms. Crowe's doctors gave her 10 months to put her private affairs in order. But she never surrendered. In the months that followed, Heather Crowe dedicated herself to getting the vital message about the dangers of second-hand smoke to the public.
Despite her pain and suffering and poor prognosis, Heather remained resolute and determined to do all that she can to ensure that people are protected from second-hand smoke in all workplaces and public places. She agreed to participate in new commercials for the Heart and Stroke Foundation's tobacco control initiative in association with the Ministry of Health Promotion, which were launched in April 2006.
Ms. Crowe and her family believed that her struggle for a smoke-free environment extended her life.
"I want the general public to understand the good, the bad and the ugly of lung cancer," she said of her activism, "and why I am asking for a smoke-free Canada in all workplaces and public spaces, and to have legislation in place and have the general public understand why."In addition to her television appearances, Ms. Crowe met frequently with youth, politicians, bar and restaurant owners, and spoke at schools and community groups about the effects of tobacco use. To many she was a messenger and an inspiration.
In December 2005, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty introduced the Heather Crowe Award, which will recognize individuals and organizations working toward a smoke-free province.