Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Registered nurses help smokers kick the habit and save lives on World No Tobacco Day

Registered nurses help smokers kick the habit and save lives on World No Tobacco Day


TORONTO, May 25, 2010 – As World No Tobacco Day 2010 (May 31) approaches, Canadians thinking about quitting smoking can rely on nurses to help them butt out. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says registered nurses are using the most up-to-date techniques to help smokers quit, which is reducing the number of smokers and preventing diseases.

A guideline developed by RNAO recommends that nurses counsel smokers using a method called the “4As,” which stands for ‘Ask, Advise, Assist, Arrange.Using this method, nurses ask all patients they encounter in their care about tobacco use, advise them of the importance of quitting, assist them by providing information on how to quit and arrange a follow-up meeting or referral to another health-care provider. Research shows that these steps can make a significant difference to smokers who need help quitting.

Smoking is one of the most important public health issues in terms of chronic disease prevention. Nurses can play a key role in helping people quit, and the RNAO is providing the education and resources to teach smokers how to quit,” explains Irmajean Bajnok, Director of International Affairs and Best Practice Guidelines Program at RNAO. She says that the approximately 300,000 registered nurses across Canada are in an ideal position because they see clients in a variety of health-care settings and can encourage them to think about quitting in a sensitive and non-judgmental way.

Smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco is mentally and physically addictive. More than 45,000 Canadians over the age of 35 are estimated to die every year as a direct result of smoking. Tobacco use increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease and pregnancy complications.

Sharon Lawler is a registered nurse and a member of the panel for RNAO’s Smoking Cessation Guideline. “More and more nurses have been learning about nicotine addiction and evidence-based treatment to help smokers quit. Wherever patients go for health care, they should be able to talk to nurses about quitting smoking.” Lawler is currently manager and co-director of the province-wide Leave The Pack Behind program that encourages college and university students to quit smoking.

Within one year of quitting, the risk of heart disease is reduced by 50 per cent.
Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more prone to breathing problems and lung infections.
Smoking is a key contributor to low birth weight and increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and stillbirth.

Tobacco-related diseases cost the Ontario economy at least $1.7 billion in health care annually, result in more than $2.6 billion in productivity losses (Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, 2006)

Secrets to Success – Tips on Quitting:

  • Talk to a nurse or other health care provider about the facts related to the impact of smoking on your health, effective ways of quitting, and resources that can help
  • Take it one day at a time. When you first stop, try to change to avoid the places where you usually smoke
  • Keep busy; try to increase your level of activity. Congratulate yourself often and think positive thoughts
  • Ask at least one friend and some family members to help support you through the process
  • Prepare yourself for situations that you know will be difficult without smoking
  • Count or save the money you would have spent on cigarettes and treat yourself to something special
  • Explore tools, resources and support groups to help you quit

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.

RNAO’s ambitious Best Practice Guidelines Program, funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide spectrum of health-care areas. The 42 guidelines developed to date are a substantive contribution towards building excellence in Ontario’s health-care system. They are available to nurses, other health-care professionals and organizations across Canada and abroad. To learn more about RNAO’s Nursing Best Guidelines Program or to view these resources, please visit

For more information about RNAO, visit our website at

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For more information, please contact:

Marion Zych, Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
647-406-5605 (cell)
416-408-5605 (office)

Suriya Veerappan, Media Relations Coordinator

Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
416-907-7956 (office)

647-406-4801 (cell)