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Friday, January 20, 2012

  • Report collects tobacco trends
  • IQC postdoc gives clouds a secure lining
  • Friday notes
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Report collects tobacco trends

National Non-Smoking Week comes to an end on January 21, and to coincide with this national observance, the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo has released the 2012 edition of Tobacco Use in Canada: Patterns and Trends, which provides a high-level overview of tobacco trends in Canada. Now in its third edition, the report utilizes data from national surveys conducted by Health Canada and Statistics Canada.

“Our hope is that it will help inform those responsible for tobacco control policies, programs, advocacy, research, evaluation and surveillance to assess progress and update action plans, based on the best possible evidence about tobacco use in our country,” writes Barbara Riley, Propel’s executive director.

The report is divided into three sections: Tobacco Use Among Canadian Adults, Quitting Smoking, and Tobacco Use Among Canadian Youth. The report found:

  • 16.7% of Canadians (approximately 4.7 million) were current smokers.
  • Although prevalence is at an all-time low, the decline in smoking prevalence observed over the past 10 years appears to have slowed.
  • Smoking prevalence was highest among younger adults (age 20-24), at 22.1%.
  • Those with a secondary school education or less had double the smoking prevalence of university graduates.
  • Daily smokers in Canada smoked an average of 15.1 cigarettes per day.
  • Male smokers consumed approximately 3 cigarettes more per day than females. Sex differences in consumption appear to have remained fairly stable since 1999.
  • Over 60% of Canadians who have ever been smokers have now quit.
  • 6 in 10 smokers were seriously considering quitting in the next 6 months; 3 in 10 were considering quitting in the next month.
  • 21.6% of students in grades 6-9 had ever tried a cigarette.
  • The majority (64%) of smokers in grades 6-9 usually obtained their cigarettes from social sources.
  • 12.2% of youth aged 15-19 were current smokers overall, with age-specific rates ranging from 5.0% for 15-year-olds to 17.5% for 19-year-olds.
  • Daily smokers aged 15-19 smoked an average of 11.6 cigarettes per day.

For the first time, the report includes a supplement that outlines key tobacco control policy developments in Canada at both the federal and provincial levels over the past decade.

The report is available online.

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IQC postdoc gives clouds a secure lining

by Colin Hunter, Senior Communications Officer, Institute for Quantum Computing

IQC postdoctoral fellow Anne BroadbentAnne Broadbent (right), an postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Quantum Computing, is part of an international research team to have achieved a breakthrough in perfectly secure "cloud computing" using principles of quantum mechanics.

The result, published today in the journal Science, represents a crucial step toward secure globalized quantum computing.

Quantum computers are expected to revolutionize information processing, since they are known to outperform their present-day “classical” counterparts at many tasks.

First-generation quantum computers will likely be housed in a few specialized facilities, and therefore computation will be done in the “cloud” — that is, central remote servers will be used to process and store data. Because multiple users will “outsource” their computations to these centralized facilities, protecting information security will be of paramount importance.

The new innovation achieved by researchers in Canada, Austria, Singapore and the UK is the implementation of “blind quantum computing,” which perfectly safeguards private information in this “cloud” scenario.

“This is a very strong security guarantee,” says Broadbent, who co-invented the theoretical protocol that was implanted in the recent experiments. “It holds no matter what computational power we ascribe to the ‘adversary’ attempting to spy on the communications.”

In the experiment, conducted in Vienna, data is encoded particles of light (photons), because quantum computation operations can be performed on them, and they can be transmitted over long distances. Photons are the quantum “bits,” or qubits, used for computation.

Thanks to the way the qubits are prepared and computed, an eavesdropper — or even the quantum computer itself — cannot gain any useful information without knowing the initial state. They are, in a very real sense, “blind” to the information being transmitted, and only the original user can interpret and utilize the results.

The theoretical work that led to this experimental implementation was published 2009 by Broadbent, Elham Kashefi and Joseph Fitzimons. The recent experiment in Austria was carried out by Stefanie Barz, Anton Zeilinger and Philip Walther.

“I think this collaboration is a great example of a theoretical result providing a new direction to experimental research,” Broadbent says. “I think such interactions are very positive for the future of science.”

Photo by Simon Wilson

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Friday notes

A clarification to Wednesday's piece on Zamir Nathoo, the former Waterloo student who pleaded guilty last week to a charge of criminal harassment after spreading threatening and misogynistic messages. Nathoo was sentenced to two years' probation, which the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services defines as a "court disposition that authorizes the offender to remain at large in the community subject to conditions prescribed in a probation order." The conditions of his probation include staying away from the campuses of the University of Waterloo and the Wilfrid Laurier University, a ban of sending emails on the topics of race or gender, and he is also required to attend counselling.

Two Waterloo professors will be participating in "Navigating the Academy: Lessons and Strategies for More Equitable Universities," a day-long conference on Friday, May 4, at the OBA Conference Centre in Toronto. The event is sponsored by the Status of Women Committee of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association (OCUFA).

The keynote address will be given by professor Carla Fehr, Wolfe Chair in Science and Technology Studies and co-Principal Investigator for ISE ADVANCE, a $3.3 million US National Science Foundation grant testing strategies for promotion and retention of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Additionally, Department of Philosophy assistant professor and Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies Shannon Dea will be presenting a workshop entitled "Saying Yes to the Right Things: Managing your Academic Career."

Workshop topics also include tenure, promotion, race, and gender, academic excellence, and workplace bullying. Registration is now open online, and the fee is $75.

And here is some more information about the Waterloo Women's Wednesdays gatherings I posted about yesterday. Shannon Dea writes, "W3 is a participant-driven group open to all woman-identified graduate students, post-docs, staff and faculty at the University of Waterloo." There is no charge to attend the event, and it proceeds on a "very informal drop-in basis," says Dea. "We normally meet at the Grad House from 4 - 6 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month."

The initiative is jointly sponsored by the Graduate Student Association (GSA), the Postdoctoral Office, the University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA), the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW), and the Grad House. There is a mailing list and Facebook page for the group. The next event is on January 25

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Link of the day

U.S. politics 100 years ago

When and where

Pension and benefits committee Friday, January 20, 8:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Engineering Alumni Ski Day, Friday, January 20, Osler Bluff Ski Club, 8:30 a.m.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel U College , lunch seminar, “What Is CFIB Doing to Assist Family Businesses?” Friday, January 20, 11:00, Bingemans Conference Centre.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: My Experience with the Beyond Borders program, featuring speaker Brilé Anderson, Friday, January 20, 2:30 p.m., St. Paul's University College room 105.

Philosophy Colloquium, featuring lecturer Rhys McKinnon, "Reasonable Assertions: Why You Don't Need to Know What You're Talking About," Friday, January 20, 3:30 p.m., HH 373.

Warrior sports this weekend: Women’s Volleyball at McMaster Friday, 6:00 p.m., at Ryerson Saturday, 12:00 p.m. Men’s Hockey vs. Windsor Friday, 7:30 p.m. Men’s Volleyball at McMaster Friday, 8:00 p.m. Swimming at Ontario Cup II, Saturday, 9:00 a.m., Nordic Skiing at University Invitational Saturday, 9:00 a.m., Women’s Basketball vs. Guelph, Saturday, 1:00 p.m.

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty and Staff Day Saturday, January 21, 1:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

Official Chinese New Year at Chopsticks, Bon Appetit Monday, January 23, 5:00, featuring a live performance by the Central Ontario Chinese Cultural Centre Lion Dancers.

Drop, No Penalty Period ends January 23.

WISE seminar series presents "Climate Change: the Corporate and Collective Response Lecture" with Michael Gerbis, CEO, the Delphi Group, Tuesday, January 24, 1:00 p.m., CPH 4333.

Volunteer/Internship Fair Tuesday, January 24, 11:00 a.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Modeling Complex Healthcare Environments using Discrete-Event Simulation: A Case Study of Mass Immunization Clinics, Tuesday, January 24, 2:00 p.m., EV3 3412.

uWaterloo NYC alumni event, Tuesday, January 24, The Hurricane Club, 360 Park Avenue, New York, New York. Register online.

Noon hour concert, Ben Bolt-Martin, acoustic and electronic solo cello, Wednesday, January 25, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College Chapel. Free admission.

Canada's Digital Economy, 49 Pixels Study Wednesday, January 25, 5:30 p.m., Waterloo Stratford Campus.

Centre for Career Action Webinar: Perfecting your interview skills, Wednesday, January 25, 4:30 p.m. Details.

Maintaining Mental Fitness for Life, Thursday, January 26, 12:00 p.m., DC 1304.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday, January 26, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

VeloCity Venture Fund finals, Thursday, January 26, 3:00 p.m., Davis Centre foyer.

uWaterloo alumni networking event in Bermuda, Thursday, January 26, 6:00 p.m., Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Bermuda.

Benjamin Eby lecture with Professor Jim Pankratz "Gandhi and Mennonites in India" Friday, January 27, 7:30 p.m.  Details.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: John Baker, founder, president, and CEO, Desire2Learn, Friday, January 27 2:30 p.m., St. Paul's University College room 105.


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