Affiliated Scientists at UWGeoffrey Fong
About 1.3 billion people world-wide smoke tobacco. Of these, one third to one half will die of a smoking-related disease, an amount greater than the entire population of North America. In response, the World Health Organization initiated the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), creating a historic opportunity to advance tobacco control. As of August 2010, 171 countries, including Canada, had ratified the FCTC, committing to implement a broad range of tobacco control policies.
Apart from tobacco control policies, there is growing interest in population-based supports for smokers who want to quit. In North America, provincial and state quitlines are centrally important to this but work must be done to enhance their reach.
Propel's research includes both tobacco control policy and smoking cessation. Smoking prevention is part of our Youth Health program. We work closely with our partners, the Canadian Cancer Society and the University of Waterloo, both recognized leaders in the field, to reduce the incidence of tobacco-related disease in Canada and internationally.
Smokers can and do quit. Over half of all Canadians who ever smoked are now ex-smokers. Of those currently smoking, half reported a quit attempt during the previous year. Cessation assistance can greatly increase their chances of success.
There is a need for population-based services, such as the Ontario Smokers' Helpline to complement clinical services. This can reduce the burden on clinicians who can simply refer patients instead of having to deliver cessation counselling themselves. Currently, health care providers can readily make referrals to telephone-based smoking cessation services, which are available free of charge to smokers anywhere in Canada.