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National Non-Smoking Week – January 18-24

Jan 18, 2015

No ifs or butts – it’s time to get serious about helping people to quit smoking

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Lung Association today called on the provincial government to intensify its campaign against the province’s number one public health threat with a major expansion of programs to help people quit smoking.

Scientifically proven over-the-counter and prescription medication as well as behavioural counselling must be freely available to the more than two million Ontarians who need help to overcome  their addiction to nicotine, the Association says.

“As Canada observes National Non-Smoking Week, it is important to remember that almost one in five Ontarians still smoke and that tobacco is responsible for 13,000 premature deaths in this province every year,” said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association. “It remains Canada’s leading cause of preventable illness and death.”

A life and economic burden analysis conducted by the Ontario Lung Association shows that increased access to smoking cessation counselling and medication could reduce smoking prevalence in the province from the current 19 per cent to 4.3 per cent in 10 years.

This would save the Ontario economy an estimated $2.8 billion in direct and indirect costs, over a 10-year period.

“We applaud the provincial government for recent amendments strengthening the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and for its long-standing pledge to make Ontario the province with the lowest smoking rates in Canada,” said Habib. “But that pledge remains unfulfilled and the smoking rate in Ontario has not changed significantly for several years.

“It’s clear that a bold new approach is needed. Dramatic reductions in smoking prevalence will not be achieved unless there are further increases in tobacco taxes and more services for the more than one million Ontarians who want to quit.”

The Ontario Lung Association offers several programs to support people who want to quit smoking. The toll-free Lung Health Information Line – 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) – is staffed by certified respiratory educators who are trained to help people who want to quit, particularly those already affected by lung disease.

They can also download the popular Journey 2 Quit workbook at or order a copy by calling the information line. The workbook is an essential tool of many smoking cessation services across the province but more funding is needed to ensure that it is available to all who want to quit.

This year, the Ontario Lung Association has partnered with the Ontario Kinesiology Association and registered kinesiologists to offer the Ontario Lung Association fitness-based cessation program, Quit & Get Fit, to their clients. The Quit & Get Fit program was thoroughly evaluated with significant positive results in various communities. With enhanced resources, this evidence-based program could once again be available province-wide.

The Ontario Lung Association says that the effectiveness of these initiatives would be greatly enhanced if all those who want to quit had access to scientifically proven prescription and over-the-counter medications, along with behavioural counselling. These interventions should be part of a comprehensive Ontario Lung Health Action Plan to address the growing health-care crisis of lung disease in this province.

About National Non-Smoking Week
National Non-Smoking Week has been observed during the third week in January for almost 40 years. With numerous activities and broad participation nationwide, it is one of the most important public education events aimed at reducing the use of tobacco. The goals of NNSW are: educating Canadians about the dangers of smoking; preventing people from starting to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco; helping people who smoke to quit; promoting the right of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke; denormalizing tobacco products and tobacco-use; and helping Canada to become a smoke-free society.

About the Ontario Lung Association
The Lung Association is a registered charity that assists, educates and empowers individuals living with or caring for others with lung disease. The Lung Association provides programs and services to patients and health-care providers, invests in lung research and campaigns for improved policies on lung health. Information about lung health issues is available through the Lung Health Information Line 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or at


John Chenery