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Current Year Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Making smoking cessation a reality for Ontarians

The Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Wellness visits CAMH’s Nicotine Dependence Clinic during National Non-Smoking Week to discuss CAMH’s role in the province’s smoke- free initiatives.

TORONTO, January 21, 2015 – CAMH and Ontario’s Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Wellness, Dipika Damerla, marked  Weedless Wednesday one day early with a tour of the CAMH Nicotine Dependence Clinic on January 20.

“This is really ground zero for smoking cessation,” said Minister Damerla, whose mandate includes reducing smoking in Ontario.

CAMH's Dr. Peter Selby and Associate Minister Dipika Damerla
Dr. Peter Selby, Chief of the Addictions Program at CAMH, explains the work done at the Nicotine Dependence Clinic (NDC) to Ontario's Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Wellness, Dipika Damerla.

Dr. Peter Selby, Chief of the Addictions Program at CAMH, led the tour of the Nicotine Dependence Clinic (NDC). The NDC houses researchers looking into nicotine addiction, educators training smoking cessation counsellors, as well as clinicians providing treatment, including the STOP Study program. The STOP Study helps clients quit smoking through counselling, nicotine replacement therapies and other supports. Since its inception, the STOP program has treated over 130,000 Ontarians.

The NDC primarily targets smokers who also have psychiatric or mental illnesses, or a medical problem. “Being storefront like this, this has become an entryway into CAMH,” said Dr. Selby. “Now clients coming for help to quit smoking are also discovering CAMH’s mental health services.”

The minister also met a current STOP client, 33-year-old Ryan Smith, who is three months into the six month smoking cessation program. “I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to quit,” said Ryan. “Even when I first started here, I didn’t think I would be successful.” In addition to smoking, Ryan is coping with depression and anxiety. He says because of the support of his family and the staff at CAMH, he’s been smoke-free, reduced his anxiety, developed self-confidence and has a positive outlook for the future. “[Qutting]’s not nearly as bad as you think it is. Now I’m not out in the cold, I don’t smell bad, I’m not ruining dinners.”

Associate Minister Damerla speaks with STOP client Ryan Smith
Associate Minister Damerla speaks with STOP client Ryan Smith

The NDC is also home to the TEACH Project, which has become the benchmark cessation education program in Canada. It provides evidence-based training and follow-up support to inter-professional teams and individual clinicians who want to help their clients quit smoking. TEACH has trained over 4,300 practitioners from across the country. 

The Associate Minister’s visit comes on the heels of a groundbreaking research study co-led by Dr. Rachel Tyndale, Senior Scientist in CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, which examined the speed of metabolizing nicotine across different smokers, and the effectiveness of different forms of treatment based on metabolic rate.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and illness in Ontario, claiming approximately 13,000 lives each year. Ontario’s smoking rate has hovered around the 18 per cent mark for several years – a statistic that falls below the national average. Ontario currently has the second lowest smoking rates of all Canadian provinces and territories, trailing only to BC. However, Associate Minister Damerla still sees opportunities for improvement, noting that “We can do better.”

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