Smoking cessation in cancer care in Nova Scotia

Helping patients with cancer to quit smoking

Nova Scotia Health – Tobacco Cessation in Cancer Care

Offers smoking cessation support to ambulatory patients with cancer:

  • New patients with cancer are screened for commercial tobacco use at intake using a patient survey and smokers are advised by a nurse of the benefits of quitting.
  • Using an opt-out approach, patients are referred to the provincial quitline (Tobacco Free Nova Scotia) or Mental Health and Addictions group smoking cessation programs. The Cape Breton Cancer Centre provides on-site smoking cessation support to patients prior to program referrals.
  • Patients enrolled in Nova Scotia Health Mental Health and Addictions group smoking cessation programs can receive free or subsidized smoking cessation medications, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), and patients in some provincial insurance programs are eligible for financial coverage of prescription smoking cessation medications.

COVID-19 response: Until March 2022, short-term funding is being used to provide free NRT to patients with cancer experiencing financial need. In addition, some smoking cessation consults are being done virtually. A delay in the roll-out of the provincial patient intake survey tool has resulted in a delay in tobacco use screening in some cancer settings.

Cancer patients’ access to smoking cessation support

no smoking iconIn 2020, eight of the ten cancer care settings in Nova Scotia (including two cancer centres) offered outpatients support to quit smoking; however, the pandemic resulted in a reduction in tobacco use screening and cessation support in some settings. Culturally appropriate supports for First Nations, Inuit and Métis patients with cancer have not yet been implemented.

Partnership-funded project – Integrating evidence-based tobacco cessation into the Nova Scotia Cancer Care Program


Overall smoking cessation in cancer care implementation level: Silver

Category 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-Centered Engages patients 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 Collects and reports on adoption and reach data Bronze

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