Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Navigate Up
CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

CAMH leads on smoking research, cessation, and tobacco-free site

January 18, 2016 - It’s National Non-Smoking Week -- a chance to remind ourselves about health harms related to smoking, to help people quit, or not start in the first place, and to promote the rights of everyone to breathe fresh air that is smoke-free.

Here’s how CAMH continues to lead and innovate when it comes to tobacco research, client care and a tobacco-free environment:


CAMH Research pinpoints emerging trends


CAMH’s Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) tracks smoking trends among youth. The study has pinpointed emerging alternatives such as e-cigarettes and waterpipe use: 

E-cigarettes and waterpipe use infographic

E-cigarette use: For the first time in 2015, students in all grades (7–12) were asked about using an electronic cigarette in the past year. About 12 per cent of students (an estimated 107,800 in Ontario) report using more than just a few puffs of an electronic cigarette, with or without nicotine, which is higher than regular cigarettes. Students in 11th grade (20 per cent) and 12th grade (17 per cent) are most likely to use e-cigarettes.

About eight per cent of students in grades 7–12 (76,200 students in Ontario) report smoking more than just a few puffs from a waterpipe (hookah) in the past year.

Tobacco use: In 2015, about nine per cent of students in grades 7– 12 (an estimated 82,700 in Ontario) report smoking cigarettes (more than just a few puffs) during the past year. About three per cent of students (about 29,400) smoke cigarettes on a daily basis.

The consistent downward trend in cigarette smoking seen since the late 1990s appears to have halted, as estimates have remained at about nine per cent for three survey cycles (since 2011). The most common source of tobacco cigarettes for students is a friend or family member. 


Cigarette use infographic 


CAMH continues to provide data to inform new policies and government regulations on tobacco and other smoking products.

Learn more about the latest Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey results and wide-ranging research on e-cigarettes underway at CAMH and the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit. What’s the real deal on waterpipes? Watch this CAMH video to learn more:

What's the real deal on waterpipes?


CAMH integrates tobacco cessation into client care


Advanced Practice Clinician Sandra Cushing is co-lead of the CAMH initiative on Integrating Smoking Cessation into Daily Practice, a key component of CAMH’s designation as a Best Practice Spotlight Organization (BPSO).

“Our results to date show increased screening of clients and more use of nicotine replacement therapy products such as the nicotine inhaler,” says Sandra.

She notes that CAMH clients informed these initiatives by providing “open and honest feedback about their journey to try to quit or stay quit. They really brought the issue home to us.” Learn more in this CAMH video.

“Many years ago, smoking was pervasive on client inpatient units,” says Dr. Peter Voore, Medical Director, Ambulatory Care and Structured Treatments at CAMH. “That was a different time and our culture has moved on. Today, we recognize that the heavy smoking of a client can cut many years off his or her life. We are taking a very active approach to smoking cessation.” 


Dr. Peter Voore 
We’ve come a long way: Dr. Peter Voore


A corner stone of CAMH’s commitment to client cessation is STOP– the Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients program. Since its inception in 2005, STOP has provided free smoking cessation medication and counselling support to more than 130,000 Ontarians who wanted to quit. 

Quit smoking exit sign
Research shows that using medications or Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) such as the patch, gum, lozenges, and inhalers can double the chances of quitting. The STOP Program provides direct support and also works with community and regional health providers to make cessation support available free of charge to patients.


CAMH’s leads tobacco-free trend among Canadian hospitals


On January 1st, 2016, new Ontario regulations were established that will ban the smoking of both tobacco and electronic cigarettes on hospital grounds. These new regulations -- part of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the Electronic Cigarettes Act -- not only reinforce CAMH’s existing policy for a Tobacco-Free CAMH, they also validate our leadership on this critical issue.

CAMH was one of the first Canadian hospitals to go tobacco-free, and we are now part of a growing trend across health centres nationwide.


Tobacci-Free CAMH team 
CAMH Tobacco-Free Sustainability Project Manager Colleen Burns (at left) with Co-Sponsors Kim Bellissimo and Dr. Tony George.


As a leader in mental health care and addictions, we are committed to providing a Safe and Well CAMH. Spring 2016 will mark the second anniversary of CAMH going completely tobacco-free. And all staff do their part to support the tobacco-free policy and environment.

Why is being tobacco-free especially important for our hospital and our patients?

  • CAMH is confronting the leading cause of preventable death for clients
  • Quitting smoking enhances a patient’s success in recovery from mental illness and eliminates smoking triggers for others
  • The policy eliminates harms from second-hand smoke.

Client attitudes continue to change in favour of smoke-free. A survey of clients found 71 per cent supported the tobacco-free policy following the launch, compared to 59 per cent pre-launch.

One CAMH client summed it up this way: “As a consumer/survivor on a limited income, quitting is the single most liberating thing I’ve been able to do for myself in decades. I thought I was going to die as a smoker, and because of smoking. I didn’t want to have to tell my kid that.”

Learn more about CAMH’s Tobacco-Free commitment.

CAMH Switchboard 416-535-8501
CAMH General Information Toronto: 416-595-6111 Toll Free: 1-800-463-6273
Connex Ontario Help Lines
Queen St.
1001 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON
M6J 1H4
Russell St.
33 Russell St.
Toronto, ON
M5S 2S1
College St.
250 College St.
Toronto, ON
M5T 1R8
Ten offices across Ontario