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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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