Ministry Reports

Helping Smokers Quit

Ontario's Smoking Cessation Action Plan
A Smoke-Free Ontario Initiative

May 31, 2016

Ontario's Smoking Cessation Action Plan


All tobacco users in Ontario and their families have easy access to a coordinated system of supportive, effective, efficient cessation services.


  1. Create a coordinated smoking cessation system that will meet the needs of all tobacco users
  2. Reduce smoking rates in Ontario

Desired outcomes

  • More people who use tobacco will try to quit.
  • More people who use tobacco will receive support to quit.
  • More people who try to quit will succeed.
  • More health care settings and providers will offer effective person-centred cessation support.
  • The rates of smoking among groups of Ontarians who have have particularly high rates of smoking will decrease. The health gap will close.

System - Effective and efficient delivery of services to ensure a seamless cessation journey for tobacco users

Services - Wrap-around services for the tobacco users delivered in partnership with organizations and providers

Tabacco users, family and friends - Focus on the tobacco users trying to quit, those not ready to quit, those who do not want to quit

Focus: priority populations

Getting the right supports to populations with high smoking rates starting in 2016. Priority populations could include, for example:

  • Indigenous peoples
  • People with chronic conditions or a number of serious health problems
  • People with mental health and addiction issues
  • People who work in the industrial and service sectors
  • Young adults
  • People who are at high risk of poor health outcomes from smoking, such as people in hospital, and people whose smoking will have a negative impact on their own and others' health, such as young women who are pregnant or have just had a baby (prenatal and postnatal).

Objectives and actions - Beginning in the next quit season

Inform - Tobacco users know where to go to get help

  • Action #1: Establish an online cessation hub
  • Action #2: Use a common look and feel for all cessation services
  • Action #3: Promote cessation services

Connect - Tobacco users receive effective help

  • Action #4: Establish a cessation service network

Access - Tobacco users get help when they need it and are supported throughout their quit journeys

  • Action #5: Make smoking cessation part of routine health care
  • Action #6: Establish one 24/7 provincial quitline service
  • Action #7: Improve access to cessation aids
  • Action #8: Offer more intensive supports for priority populations
  • Action #9: Work with Indigenous services and communities to improve access to culturally appropriate services

Evaluate - Measure progress and success

  • Action #10: Monitor and evaluate the cessation action plan

Our future is smoke free

With our Smoking Cessation Action Plan, all people in Ontario who use tobacco and their families, will know about the services available to help them quit. They will have easy access to the cessation supports they need when they need them – including information, tools, programs and cessation aids, such as nicotine replacement therapy – regardless of where they live in the province.

Cessation programs will be linked together to create a coordinated system of services that supports people throughout their quit journeys, eliminates duplication and makes effective use of resources. All parts of the health care system – hospitals, primary care, public health, pharmacists, and community based health care providers – will mobilize to deliver supportive quit programs, resources and referrals. They will actively engage people in services to help them manage and improve their health. Cessation supports will be offered to everyone as part of routine health care. The system will provide support for anyone who wants to quit while taking concrete steps to reach the populations with the highest rates of smoking.

The smoking cessation services offered in Ontario will be based on the best possible evidence, and will be evaluated for their impact and effectiveness.

Ontario's Smoke-Free Target - Achieve the lowest smoking rates in Canada

Over the past 10 years, Ontario has seen a remarkable drop in the number of people who smoke. Right now, we have the third lowest rate of smoking in the country – just slightly behind British Columbia and Manitoba.

Yet 2,000,000 Ontarians — almost one in five (17.4%) — still smoke. And each year tobacco claims 13,000 Ontario lives and costs our economy about $2.2 billion in health care costs and $5.3 billion in costs such as time off work.

To have the lowest smoking rates in Canada, the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy uses a three-pronged approach:

  • Protection and enforcement - eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke and reduce the appeal of tobacco products
  • Prevention - keep people from starting to smoke or from becoming regular smokers
  • Cessation - help people who smoke or use tobacco products to quit

This is the ministry's action plan for the cessation pillar of the Smoke-Free Ontario strategy.

Quitting is Hard

Most people who smoke want to quit. About 500,000 Ontarians who smoke say they intend to quit in the next 30 days and over 1,000,000 intend to quit in the next six months. But nicotine is highly addictive so quitting is really hard. That's why it may take close to 30 attempts before someone can stop smoking.

Because quitting is so difficult, the health care system must be there to provide help and support – on the first attempt and every attempt. Here is our plan to help.

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Helping Smokers Quit - Ontario's Smoking Cessation Action Plan - A Smoke-Free Ontario Initiative
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