Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

National initiative trains nurses to help smokers butt out

National initiative trains nurses to help smokers butt out


TORONTO, Nov. 15 - When nurses intervene, smokers quit. Now that the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is educating nurses nation-wide in the best ways to help smokers quit, there’s hope to reach yet more smokers with firm and effective quit smoking support.

This fall, the RNAO is rolling out a national Smoking Cessation (SC) Initiative, based on its successful Ontario-based program and evidence-based Best Practice Guidelines (BPG). More than a dozen workshops are being held across the country to develop nurse leaders, or SC Champions, across all health-care sectors.

The goal is to support the role of all nurses and the leadership role of public health nurses in the areas of tobacco control across Canada to reduce smoking rates among all Canadians.

“We are building a strong and thriving network of Champions who take action to integrate smoking cessation in their daily practice, and seek opportunities to be actively involved in smoking cessation and smoke-free organization and policy recommendations,” says Irmajean Bajnok, Director of RNAO’s BPG program in Toronto.

Research shows that the most important step in addressing tobacco use and dependence is screening and offering minimal smoking cessation intervention messages at every opportunity.

“Nurses who spend as little as three minutes initiating conversations about quitting smoking can help make a difference in the health of Canadians,” says Bajnok.

The goal of the national SC Initiative, which received funding from Health Canada’s Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, is to target 1,000 nurses across the country to be Smoking Cessation Champions by the end of 2010.

“Nurses are employed at every point of contact. We are in the community, in the hospital, in people’s homes, and we focus on illness care and health promotion based on our solid knowledge and compassion. We are experienced in client teaching, and we are in excellent, trusted positions to get the message across,” says Amanda Saunders, a health promotion nurse at Central Health in Gander, Newfoundland, and a facilitator in the National SC Initiative.

“We can start the process to get them thinking about quitting,” adds Saunders. “We can be a source of information and support. And, at the very least, nurses ensure smokers are informed about the health choices they make.”
Robin Manoll, a community public health nurse in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and facilitator in the National SC Initiative, says “Nurses, as caregivers, are allowed into the ‘personal space’ of people, and that’s the key to providing sensitive, non-judgmental smoking cessation advice.”

Manoll adds that she has real opportunities to reach smokers and support their plans at all stages of quit readiness working at a tuberculosis clinic in Nunavut. “I see clients every day for many months. They understand that I am personally involved in their health and they listen to me when they decide to make changes. I have helped many people to break the habit.”

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.


Media are welcome to attend any of the following workshops. Nurses who are experienced in smoking cessation interventions are also available for interviews.
Since its creation, the Ontario-based SC project has trained more 540 nurses in evidence-based smoking cessation interventions.

National SC Initiative Workshop Dates

November 16, Moose Jaw SK
November 18, Moose Jaw SK
November 22, Brandon, MB
November 23, Winnipeg, MB
November 25, Souris, MB
December 1, Winnipeg, MB
December 3, Brandon, MB
December 8, Moncton, NB (French)
December 10, Campbellton, NB (French)
December 13, Montreal, QC (French)
December 15, Montreal, QC

Please contact:

Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)
158 Pearl Street
Toronto, ON
416-408-5605 (office)
647-406-5605 (cellular)