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Smoking Cessation Information for Healthcare Providers

Quitting smoking is one of the best things a person with cancer can do to help their cancer treatment work better.

We provide information and materials for healthcare providers to share with their patients about the benefits of quitting smoking, how to quit and where to get support.

What Healthcare Providers Can Do to Help People with Cancer Quit Smoking

Facts about Tobacco Use

  • Tobacco use increases the risk of nearly 20 different types of cancer.
  • Tobacco use contributes to 30% of all cancer deaths and about 85% of lung cancer cases.
  • In Ontario, approximately 1 in 6 new cancer patients is a current or recent tobacco user.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

It is never too late for tobacco cessation to provide a benefit, and it is never too late for a person to quit.

Quitting smoking at the time of cancer diagnosis can lower the risk of dying by 30% to 40%. It also lowers the chance of the cancer returning or another type of cancer developing.

Quitting can also improve treatment outcomes:

  • Surgery: Patients who have quit smoking are less likely to have infections or complications during or after surgery.
  • Radiation Therapy: Smoking reduces the level of oxygen in blood, and radiation therapy works best when the amount of oxygen in the body is normal. Quitting can also help reduce side effects.
  • Chemotherapy: Cigarette smoke has chemicals that can lower the amount of some chemotherapy drugs in the blood, making them less effective.

For some cancer diagnoses, the benefit of quitting smoking may be equal to, or even exceed, the value of state-of-the-art cancer therapies.

Smoking Cessation in the Regional Cancer Programs

We support Ontario’s Regional Cancer Programs to implement smoking cessation initiatives that use this "3 As" framework developed by smoking cessation experts:

  • Ask — Talk to new cancer patients about their tobacco use.
  • Advise — Inform them about the benefits of quitting smoking for their cancer treatment and outcomes.
  • Act — Refer them to smoking cessation services for support.

Each Regional Cancer Program has designated a Regional Smoking Cessation Champion who oversees the smoking cessation program. Smoking cessation is an essential component of quality cancer care.