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Smoking Cessation Program

The Smoking Cessation Program aims to help patients to stop smoking, by sharing information about how this can make their cancer treatment more successful and give them a better chance for a healthier future.
About the program

The BC Cancer Smoking Cessation Program started in September 2019 in all cancer centres across the province. All new BC Cancer patients are asked about their tobacco use. We can then give patients who smoke the information that they need about the benefits of quitting. This can lead to better results from their cancer treatment. We help patients with the tools to quit by referring them to QuitNow, BC's provincial cessation program.

Giving patients the knowledge, motivation and tools to quit at the time of a cancer diagnosis, is one of the most important parts of their treatment.

We know that people will live longer and better lives if they are able to stop smoking at the time of their treatment.

If you were a cancer patient before September 2019 and are still involved with BC Cancer, please ask your cancer care team for more information on quitting smoking. If you are not involved with BC Cancer, but want to quit smoking or help someone else quit smoking, please contact the provincial quit line - QuitNow - directly at 1.877.455.2233 or visit

QuitNow is a free program in British Columbia that will help you with a personal plan for quitting smoking.

Why is it important?

Stopping smoking at the time of a cancer diagnosis can improve the results of your treatment and reduce the side effects you may experience from chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or surgery.

Research shows that cancer patients who quit smoking:

  • Have a better chance of successful treatment
  • Improve their health and their body’s response to treatment
  • Have fewer serious side effects
  • Have faster recovery from treatment
  • Have a lower risk of their cancer coming back or of them getting another form of cancer
  • Have a lower risk of infection
  • Find it easier to breathe
  • Have more energy
  • Experience better quality of life and outcomes, even when living with an incurable cancer
Program details

Below is information on what to expect from your first new patient appointment with BC Cancer and the Smoking Cessation Program.

Quitting smoking or smoking less can be hard, but we are here to help.


Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your cancer treatment.


Radiation therapy works better if the amount of oxygen in your body is normal. When you smoke, the amount of oxygen in your blood drops, making it harder for radiation to do its job. 

**If you cannot stop smoking, do not smoke before or after your radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy (systemic therapy)

Chemotherapy drugs work better in people who do not smoke.  Chemicals in cigarette smoke lower the amount of chemotherapy drugs in your blood. Chemotherapy cannot work as well.


Quitting smoking or smoking fewer cigarettes can make surgery safer and help you recover more quickly.

People who quit smoking are:

  • less likely to have complications during or after surgery
  • less likely to have infections
  • more likely to heal faster and go home sooner

To be successful in quitting smoking...

  • Talk with your BC Cancer care team. As part of your treatment with BC Cancer, you will be referred to a Quit Coach from QuitNow, BC's provincial quit program, to help you make a plan that is right for you to quit smoking. QuitNow can be contacted directly at 1.877.455.2233 for more information, or visit for tips, tricks and support on quitting smoking.
  • Talk to your local pharmacist about the free NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) program through Fair PharmaCare.
  • Talk to your doctor about your intention to quit smoking before your treatment starts. 

Evidence shows that patients are most successful when they are:

  • Supported by health care professionals in their quit attempts
  • Use both counselling and pharmacotherapy to help them quit.

Patients are referred to BC's provincial stop smoking program, QuitNow. QuitNow contacts patients and provides them with cessation services.

QuitNow Coaches can help you with:

  • Making a plan to quit or reduce smoking
  • Advice on how to deal with cravings
  • Identifying coping strategies
  • Learning how to get nicotine replacement therapy or quit medications that are insured under Fair PharmaCare
  • Dealing with slips or relapses (these are a common part of quitting for most people)
  • Help in the language of your choice
To contact QuitNow directly, please call 1.877.455.2233 or visit

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SOURCE: Smoking Cessation Program ( )
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