According to the Ministry of Health, tobacco use accounts for approximately 13,000 deaths in Ontario each year, which is why it’s no wonder RNAO has long participated in multiple initiatives that aid Ontarians – and Canadians – in their goal to butt out.
In 2003, the association published its Integrating Smoking Cessation into Daily Nursing Practice best practice guideline (BPG), which aims to support nurses in their day-to-day work with patients who are addicted to tobacco. The BPG was revised in March 2007 to reflect newer information. A number of health-care organizations, including Bluewater Health, Two Rivers Family Health Team and Hôpital Montfort Hospital have used the guideline.
But the association’s work on this issue has not stopped.
RNAO released an informative fact sheet that assists smokers on their path to kick the habit, and created an Internet-based course that helps educate health-care professionals about techniques when talking to clients about smoking cessation strategies.
In 2007, RNAO developed a website – www.tobaccofreernao.ca – that promotes methods summarized in the BPG and gives nurses information and evidence that helps them provide advice and coaching to smokers.
Thanks, in part, to funding from Health Canada, RNAO also launched a nationwide program in the fall of 2010 called the National Smoking Cessation Initiative. Over a dozen workshops were held that designated a number of nurses and other health-care professionals as “Champions” in smoking cessation. During National Non-Smoking Week (an annual January event) in 2011, this project was expanded.
The association has also represented Ontario’s nurses on the Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group – a compilation of health experts who convened to provide advice to the government regarding a five-year plan that builds on the Smoke-Free Ontario strategy – and has thrown its support behind Ontario’s decision to ban the sale of flavoured and individually sold cigarillos. Reducing the amount of contraband tobacco is also an issue the association has advocated strongly for.
RNAO’s multiple initiatives display nurses’ dedication in helping people kick their hazardous habit. Nurses see the big picture, as well as the impacts smoking has on individuals. It can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung infection, among a few.
Health concerns stemming from smoke exposure – such as emphysema – place additional stressors on our already strapped health-care system (it’s estimated that smoking costs the national health system billions of dollars annually).
Nurses know they have the power to intervene and help promote healthy decisions. This is what prompted RNAO to join in the fight against tobacco.