Nova Scotia

Smoking cessation in cancer care

Access to smoking cessation supports in cancer care settings in 2022-23

  • Eight of the ten cancer care settings in Nova Scotia, including two cancer centres, offer people with cancer support to quit smoking and are working toward offering culturally appropriate supports for First Nations, Inuit and Métis with cancer.
  • People newly diagnosed with cancer are screened for commercial tobacco use at intake using a survey. People who smoke are advised by a nurse of the benefits of quitting. Using an opt-out approach, people are referred to the provincial quitline (Tobacco Free Nova Scotia) or group smoking cessation programs through Nova Scotia Health Mental Health and Addictions Services. The Cape Breton Cancer Centre provides people with on-site smoking cessation consultations before referring them to these programs.
  • People enrolled in Nova Scotia Health Mental Health and Addictions group smoking cessation programs can receive free or subsidized smoking cessation medications. Until March 2023, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) was offered to people with financial need in cancer care settings, using short-term funding. The Cape Breton Cancer Centre is implementing a grant-funded quality improvement project to study the provision of NRT to people at the point of care.

Smoking cessation in cancer care implementation level in 2022-23: SILVER

Quality dimension Implementation criteria met Level
Behavioural counselling Offers 3A (Ask, Advise, Act) or 5A (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange) model with an opt-out approach SILVER
Pharmacotherapy Offers subsidized varenicline, bupropion and/or NRT SILVER
Person-centred Engages people with cancer in program planning BRONZE
Culturally competent Working to develop cultural competency training materials for untrained staff PRE-IMPLEMENTATION
Partnership Works with a multi-disciplinary team and community partners SILVER
Indicator measurement and reporting Developing tools and infrastructure to track program performance and collect data PRE-IMPLEMENTATION

Smoking Cessation Action Framework Implementation Checklist

Impact of funded project (2019-22)

  • Building on a previously funded planning project, funding and support enabled the Cancer Care Program at Nova Scotia Health to develop and implement an evidence-based smoking cessation in cancer care policy based on the pan-Canadian Action Framework.
  • Working with staff from eight cancer care settings and Tobacco Free Nova Scotia, the Cancer Care Program implemented standardized screening questions about commercial tobacco use for all people newly diagnosed with cancer, consistent education and referral processes, and a data collection and reporting system. Several front-line staff and all Tobacco Free Nova Scotia counselors were trained by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in treating commercial tobacco use in First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Several other staff received cultural safety training.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on this project, particularly related to implementing the screening tool, collecting data and working with Indigenous partners to develop Nova Scotia-specific cultural safety training.