Quitting smoking takes more than willpower. It’s complicated, and for many people it’s the hardest thing they’ll ever do. Some people make it the focus of their New Year’s resolution; others fall ill and are triggered to stop smoking because of their health. No matter what the circumstance, we all know someone who may want to stop smoking. Supporting someone in their journey to be smoke-free can be just as rewarding as the ability to butt out. So we’re doing our part to support our patients who want to stop smoking, but need a little help.
We have partnered with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and launched an inpatient smoking cessation program in support of efforts to decrease smoking rates locally. By following the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation, we have implemented a standardized protocol for smoking cessation interventions with our patients. It works like this: anyone admitted to the hospital will be asked about their smoking history; tobacco users will receive a smoking cessation consult by a Registered Respiratory Therapist; the RRT will provide education and support for cessation, such as free pharmacotherapy (i.e. nicotine replacement, Bupropion or Varenicline) and follow-up support upon discharge.
The potential results that could benefit from the program are really encouraging. The Ottawa Model has shown an 11% increase in long-term quit rates post-hospitalization. We also know there is a need for this type of program locally as the smoking rate in Simcoe-Muskoka is 22%, higher than the provincial rate of 17%. Smoking is a leading cause of hospitalization and is linked to so many conditions, so to reach just a few smokers and equip them with advice to make informed choices makes it all worthwhile and enables them to take action to meet their own cessation needs.
To date, since the launch of the program in October, we have been able to reach more than 50 patients. This work couldn’t be done without the support of all staff and physicians. I would particularly like to acknowledge MAHC’s Smoking Cessation Task Force, an interprofessional group of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and respiratory therapists, for successfully rolling out this program across our hospital sites.
If you or someone you know would like information or support to stop using tobacco, please contact the Smokers’ Helpline toll free at 1-877-513-5333 or visit www.smokershelpline.ca.