Vast majority of Ontario smokers try to quit alone, and fail


New evaluation demonstrates that Smokers' Helpline, a free service with 1-on-1 coaching, increases success 7-fold

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TORONTO, Jan. 19, 2016 /CNW/ - Smokers' Helpline, a central component of the province's Smoke-Free Ontario cessation services, is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a simple message to the province's 2 million smokers: overcoming the addiction to tobacco can seem impossible, but effective and non-judgemental support is only a call or website away.

To mark National Non-Smoking Week (January 18 – 22) and Weedless Wednesday (January 20), the Canadian Cancer Society is urging smokers to reach out to a Quit Coach at its Smokers' Helpline to work together to create a personalized quit plan and to navigate the free quitting resources provided by the Ontario government.

Only 4% of smokers who quit "cold turkey" succeed in overcoming the addiction, and it typically takes several attempts before quitting for good. A new Health Canada-lead evaluation indicates that working with Smokers' Helpline increases the chances of success to 28%. Since 2001, the service has helped more than 175,000 smokers in Ontario by phone and online.

Elana Trainoff, a smoker since she was 15, turned to Smokers' Helpline last year after suffering a heart attack at 40. In addition to quitting smoking, she revamped her diet and started to lead a more active lifestyle.

"Nearly dying is certainly a motivator. I tried to quit on my own, but I needed help," explains Trainoff. "The people at Smokers' Helpline supported me at every step and without any judgment or shaming. They even sent me encouraging text messages to get me through each day."

Smokers' Helpline, funded through the provincial government's Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, can be reached through the toll-free quitline number printed directly on cigarette packages. It is also featured in the government's current public awareness campaign to encourage people to quit and to inform them about the support resources available.

Smokers' Helpline continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of Ontarians, including launching a robust online community and an array of online tools. Smokers can even register to receive supportive texts directly to their mobile device. Quit Coaches have knowledge of Ontario's quit services and can refer people to programs in their community that offer free quit-aids like patches and gum. The Ontario smoking rate is now about 17%, down from 25% in 2000.

"Our Smokers' Helpline services are free, run by experienced Quit Coaches and can accommodate more than 100 languages," says John Atkinson, Director of Cancer Prevention at the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. "As a former 2-pack-a-day smoker, I can assure people that they will be warmly welcomed and supported by compassionate people. You don't have to do this alone."

One in 2 regular smokers will die of a tobacco-related illness. Tobacco use costs the province more than $2.2 billion each year in direct health care costs.               

"We are committed to working together to find ways to further decrease smoking rates in Ontario and achieve the lowest smoking rate in Canada," says Dipika Damerla, Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Smoking cessation programs play an important role in achieving that goal. The Smokers' Helpline provides valuable support to those who are trying to quit smoking and live healthier, longer lives."

Smokers' Helpline is a free service that provides non-judgmental personalized support, tips, and strategies for quitting smoking and tobacco use.  Offering assistance and information to smokers, former smokers, and their friends and family by telephone, online and text messaging, Smokers' Helpline is funded by the Government of Ontario and operated by the Canadian Cancer Society.  To learn more call 1-877-513-5333 or the phone number on cigarette packages or visit

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division)

Video with caption: "B-roll footage for Smokers’ Helpline". Video available at:

Audio with caption: "Elana Trainoff, who had a heart attack last year at 40 after 25 years of smoking, describes the challenges of quitting and how she turned to Smokers’ Helpline to end her addiction to tobacco.". Audio available at:

Audio with caption: "John Atkinson, Director of Tobacco Control and Cancer Prevention at the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, and a former 2-pack-a-day smoker, discusses challenges of quitting and the expert support they can count on at Smokers’ Helpline.". Audio available at:

Audio with caption: "Hon. Dipika Damerla, Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, explains why the Ontario government invests in programs that help people quit smoking.". Audio available at:

PDF available at:

For further information: Claire Cockburn, Associate, Healthcare, NATIONAL Public Relations,, Direct 416-848-1423


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Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division)

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