Most toxic drug deaths are now from smoking. Advocates ask when B.C. will adjust to that reality


Last yr, up to three quarters of individuals killed by B.C.’s toxic drug provide in elements of the province had smoked — not injected — their deadly dose, in accordance to figures from the coroners service.

But in some areas of B.C. that noticed the best charges of loss of life by inhalation, drug customers had no entry to any supervised consumption or overdose prevention websites that permit smoking.

The 2021 figures from the B.C. Coroners Service present that the overwhelming majority of illicit drug deaths in each Health Service Delivery Area within the province had been brought on by smoking, rising to highs of 74 per cent within the Northern Interior and 68 per cent in Kootenay Boundary.

Meanwhile, as of July, solely 13 of 42 monitored consumption websites in B.C. permit smoking, and so they’re primarily clustered on the South Coast and Vancouver Island. There are none east of Abbotsford or north of Campbell River.

The up to date statistics on mode of consumption had been obtained by drug coverage advisor Karen Ward, who described them as “infuriating” in mild of the dearth of hurt discount companies for individuals who inhale their medicine.

“It’s so predictably tragic and unhappy,” she stated.

“All I need is a reality-based drug coverage and a reality-based emergency response. At this level, I’ve had it with specialists who don’t know what is going on on.”


The life-saving results of a protected, monitored place to do medicine are exceptional. According to numbers from the province, there have been zero deaths at overdose prevention and supervised consumption websites between January 2017 and July 2022, regardless of 3.2 million visits in that time.

But these websites are nonetheless largely geared towards individuals utilizing needles.

As Ward factors out, the pattern away from injection drug use has been apparent for years.

The newest public report from the coroner says smoking has been the commonest mode of consumption in B.C.’s toxic drug deaths since 2017, steadily rising to attain 56 per cent provincewide in 2020. Just 19 per cent of deaths in 2020 had been brought on by injected medicine.

Monitored smoking web site shut down in Prince George

The Northern Interior Health Service Delivery Area, which noticed the best charge of deaths by smoked medicine, consists of Prince George.

The northern metropolis briefly had a supervised consumption web site that allowed smoking final yr, thanks to the Pounds Project Society.

Executive Director Jordan Stewart described it as “a bit smoke shed that we may put outdoors our again door,” however stated it was shut down due to bylaw points associated to smoking close to air intakes and fireplace security.

Stewart says she would not blame metropolis staff for doing their jobs, but it surely’s nonetheless disappointing.

“It will be disheartening to do the work day in and time out and acknowledge that there are nonetheless these huge shortcomings, despite the fact that we have tried to the easiest of our talents to present companies that meet the wants of the individuals that we serve,” she stated.

Jordan Stewart, govt director of the Pounds Project Society, says a monitored consumption web site for people who smoke in Prince George was shut down due to bylaw points. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Stewart estimated that greater than half of the overdoses that Pound Project employees reply to occur outdoors the constructing, and most often they contain individuals who smoked their medicine.

She stated her group has been invited to revisit the concept of a supervised smoking web site in collaboration with native officers, however the issue is simply too massive to remedy on a case-by-case foundation like this.

“It’s such an enormous want within the face of such an infinite downside that the answer cannot simply be left to small organizations … that are nickel-and-diming their manner via this disaster, making an attempt to present life-saving companies,” she stated.

“We cannot be anticipated to provide you with an answer to this downside on our personal.”

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson was not out there for an interview on Tuesday, however she defended the province’s response in a written assertion, saying the federal government “has quickly scaled up overdose prevention and hurt discount measures.”

Her ministry informed CBC that the regional well being authorities are working to open extra overdose prevention companies that permit smoking, however there are challenges, together with correct air flow and publicity to second-hand smoke.

According to the ministry, the one websites that provided inhalation companies as of July included:

  • One in Surrey
  • Two in Abbotsford
  • One in Mission
  • One in Vancouver
  • One in Sechelt
  • One in Powell River
  • One in Squamish
  • Two in Victoria
  • One in Port Alberni
  • One in Duncan
  • One in Campbell River



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here