Tobacco control and public health leaders come together to implement a comprehensive smoking cessation campaign
Today, on World No Tobacco Day 2021, we pledge to help Canadians “commit to quit.” Four national non-profit organizations, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), Canadian Lung Association (CLA), Heart and Stroke (H&S), and the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), have come together to improve the health of Canadians; a unique partnership at this scale. With a $3 million investment from Health Canada, a new two-year campaign, scheduled to launch in Fall 2021, aims to help Canadian adults aged 35-64 quit smoking and reduce their risk of chronic disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led an increased number of tobacco users who report wanting to quit. During these unprecedented times, supporting Canadians to quit smoking and reduce their health risks are needed more than ever.
“The harms of tobacco cross organizational boundaries. This is an issue that affects us all; just like tobacco affects the entire body. This is why we are excited to join our colleagues at Canadian Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke and Canadian Public Health Association to launch this innovative campaign that provides a comprehensive approach to helping people quit,” says Terry Dean, president and CEO, The Canadian Lung Association.
Canada continues to face the burden of commercial tobacco use as 14.8% of people aged 12+ (roughly 4.7 million people) continue to smoke resulting in approximately 48,000 deaths per year and countless more experiencing tobacco-related illness and disease. Overall, tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of chronic disease including cancer, heart, and lung disease, among others. As Canada’s Federal Tobacco Strategy continues its pursuit of a less than 5% tobacco prevalence rate by 2035, robust efforts and collaboration is needed to support all Canadians experiencing the persistent addiction to nicotine.
Using a comprehensive social marketing campaign approach (marketing designed to create social change), the project aims to raise awareness of the numerous benefits of quitting, motivate and empower Canadians to quit, provide incentives or rewards for attempting to quit, and connect people to smoking cessation supports to increase their chances for success. The campaign will combine digital promotion and engagement of commercial tobacco users at grassroots levels. Additionally, the campaign will be tailored for both French and English audiences across the country.
Evidence shows that mass-reach campaigns, that are part of larger a comprehensive tobacco control strategy, can effectively influence tobacco-use behaviour change and increase quit rates. As such, the project is committed to expanding on and complementing well-established and proven quit smoking supports, such as Quitlines (E.g., Smokers’ Helpline, Quit Now, etc.), in order to help people stay smoke-free and improve their overall health.
The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, University of Toronto, is leading the project’s research and evaluation to help understand what will work best to engage adult commercial tobacco users and measure the overall impact of the campaign. Further, input from tobacco users will be sought to help inform the campaign development. Commencing in Summer 2021, up to 3,000 Canadians will be invited to take part in a survey and focus groups to help shape the campaign.
About the Project Partnership
The project is a partnership of four leading national health organizations who are leaders in tobacco control across Canada: the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS); the Canadian Lung Association (CLA), Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (H&S); a unique partnership at this scale. The partnership also includes the internationally recognized Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU), University of Ontario as the research partner. OTRU will lead market research to better understand the audience and measure project’s overall impact.
- According to the most recent Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey (CTNS), 14% (4.3 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported using at least one tobacco product in the past 30 days.
- Health Canada is providing $3,012,725 over the next two years to the National Cessation Campaign project through its Substance Use and Addictions (SUAP) program.
- Services and supports are available to help Canadians quit smoking. Trained specialists with the pan-Canadian toll-free quit line can help individuals develop a quit-smoking plan, answer questions and provide referrals to programs and services in communities across Canada, including information on how to access quit-smoking medications. Canadians can reach trained cessation specialists by phone at 1-866-366-3667, online at Canada.ca/quitsmoking, or in speaking with their health care provider.
We respectfully acknowledge that many First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and urban Indigenous peoples have a sacred and ceremonial relationship with traditional tobacco. All mentions of ‘tobacco’ throughout this announcement refers to commercial tobacco products, such as packaged cigarettes.
Are you a health care, public health, not-for-profit, or community services organization interested in learning more about the project and would like to become involved in the campaign? If so, please contact Terri Schneider, Acting Senior Manager, Cancer Prevention Strategic Initiatives, Canadian Cancer Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marketing and Communications Manager
Sr. Manager (Acting), Cancer Prevention Strategic Initiatives
Canadian Cancer Society