More Ontarians want to quit smoking but gaps in Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy leave millions using tobacco

    TORONTO, April 16 /CNW/ - More people in Ontario than ever before want to
quit smoking, but according to a report released yesterday by the Ontario
Tobacco Research Unit, far too many are being failed by gaps in the current
smoke-free strategy.
    The report suggests that no more than four per cent of Ontario's smokers
are directly being reached by Ontario's smoking cessation system. In other
words, more than 90 per cent of current smokers in Ontario who want to quit
are slipping through the cracks under the current system.
    "While the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy has achieved many successes, there
is legitimate concern regarding Ontario's current smoking cessation system,"
said Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco.
"The fact that more than ever, smokers in Ontario intend to make a quit
attempt is encouraging, but the decline in serious quit attempts and a
stagnant quit ratio suggest there are gaps in the system that need attention."
    In 2007, 31 per cent of current smokers in Ontario reported an intention
to quit in the next 30 days compared to 24 per cent in 2003. However, the
number of smokers who actually made a serious quit attempt declined over the
same time period.
    Although there are successful elements of Ontario's current smoking
cessation system, such as the STOP Study and the Canadian Cancer Society's
Smokers' Helpline and Driven to Quit Challenge, Ontario needs a more
comprehensive and integrated smoking cessation system.
    "What Ontario needs is a system that would encourage smokers to quit and
help them to remain smoke-free," continued Perley. "A system that includes
increased funding to successful programs, improved access to medications, more
training for health care professionals and better promotion of what support is
available. Such a system is in the best interest of both the province and the
millions of smokers who truly want to quit."
    A paper entitled An Integrated Smoking Cessation System for Ontario:
Policies & Programs, proposed an evidenced-based approach for developing a
cessation system that would substantially improve quit rates in the province.
The document now serves as a guideline for what interventions and investments
are required to reach cessation objectives in Ontario, though the current
offering of cessation services in the province does not meet with these
    Smoking causes approximately 13,000 deaths in Ontario each year, and
quitting smoking is the single best thing an individual can do to improve
their health. Smokers who want to quit should talk with their doctor about
support and services available and can also contact the Canadian Cancer
Society's Smokers' Helpline at 1-877-513-5333, and online at, for help with quitting smoking.

    The Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco is a coalition of provincial
health agencies that have been working together since the early '90s in
support of the implementation of effective tobacco control policies in the
province of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, Michael
Perley, (416) 340-2992, or (416) 709-9075 (cell), (416) 340-2995 (FAX), Email:, Website:

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