Breathing. It’s something that we do all the time — 22,000 times each day, every day of our lives. Something so natural and automatic that most of us never even think about it. That is not the case for the one in five Canadians who struggle to breathe.

While we've come a long way in understanding and treating lung disease, it continues to exact an enormous human and economic toll. The aging population of Canada, coupled with risk factors such as smoking, has led to lung disease becoming one of the key challenges facing society. It is estimated that more than three million people in Canada currently suffer from asthma, and more than one and a half million have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This translates into chronic lung diseases accounting for more than six percent of annual health care costs in Canada.

Yet, despite all that, lung research and programming do not get anywhere near the attention or funding they deserve.

What we, as Canadians, need to do

Canadians have a key role to play in our collective lung health. We need to promote healthy breathing by fighting for policies that protect our air and educate Canadians about what they can do to promote their own lung health. We need to support and advocate for those living with conditions that affect the lungs, and fight to challenge the stigma that can be associated with lung disease. Last, through education and research, we need to turn knowledge into action to find treatments and cures to diseases that will deliver a future of better breathing for all.

Looking to the future

Now, more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that future generations will not have to deal with the debilitating effects of lung disease. If we sit idle, in one generation lung disease will grow by 50 percent. We need to collaborate to make Canada a better place to breathe for all who share the air — those who have lung disease and those of us who don’t, and hopefully never will.

As we look toward the future, we invite you to join us in creating a future where all of us can breathe easier, because all of us share a responsibility to do something about the state of our nation’s breathing.