Smoking Cessation

Smoking Cessation and the Role of the ED

Strategic Leader: Ka Wai Cheung


Decreased patient morbidity and mortality and reduced health care costs from smoking.

Long Term Goal

To reduce the number of smokers in BC and thus the number of emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations by effectively engaging ED smokers in smoking cessation programs.

Short Term Goals

  • To provide ED strategies for counseling smokers to stop
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of a policy to refer patients from the ED to QuitNow Services at Vancouver General Hospital
  • To share the knowledge of a successful strategy with all emergency departments in BC and to advocate for its routine use

Key Partners & Stakeholders

  • QuitNow Services (Mr. Jack Boomer (Director, QuitNow Services)
  • BC Lung Association (Ms. Kelly Ablog Morrant)
  • Tobacco Reduction, Office of the Chief Medical Health Officer, VCHA (Ms. Christina Tonella)
  • Tobacco Control Program, BC Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport (Mr. Frankie Best)
  • Tobacco Control Program, Ministry of Health Services (Ms. Shelley Canitz)
  • BC Cancer Agency, Prevention Programs (Ms. Sonia Lamont)

Work to Date

Dr. Ka Wai Cheung completed a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in 2010, focusing on health promotion and health behaviour change.  She completed a pilot study in the Emergency Department (ED) showing that 60% of smokers would accept a referral to our provincial telephone quit line, and that these referrals could potentially increase quit rates by three times at 12 months compared to no referral. She has now completed a randomized controlled trial, enrolling 1302 patients, to determine whether ED referrals to our provincial quit line will increase quit rates.  From this randomized controlled trial, the team also found that about 13% of smokers who visit the ED do so for a smoking-related condition, and only 38% of those who visit an ED for a smoking-related condition realize that their ED visit may be related to smoking.