Smoking cessation experts and researchers flocked to the Ottawa Shaw Centre this January in the spirit of collaboration. The conference is dedicated to showcasing the latest innovations in the fight against tobacco.
For this 10th edition, the event hosted over 375 medical practitioners, pharmacists, toxicologists, and public health professionals. People came from all over the world to celebrate successes, but also to better understand shortcomings in terms of advancing the anti-smoking agenda.
A number of thorny issues were addressed. Specifically, Kathryn Flanigan with the Kitchener Family Medical Centre in Ontario highlighted the dangers of smoking in refugee communities. These communities, often living in dire circumstances, have high smoking rates. Other populations at risk include the mentally ill, or those with neurological disorders, who account for half of cigarettes sales in Canada. Their life expectancy is shorted by a whole 25 years compared to the national average. Each year, 40,000 people die from smoking-related issues in Canada.
Encouraging avenues in the fight against smoking
Despite these alarming facts, the conference also highlighted progress and successes. The Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation (OMSC), for example, has proven results. This programme was implemented in 2002 in Canadian health centres. The unique aspect of this programme is to monitor smokers in a hospital environment. This therapeutic model combines practical advice with nicotine substitute treatments.
Today, the OMSC has been implemented in 350 establishments. Over 150,000 patients have been through the programme. The percentage of abstinent smokers after 6 months of treatment has reached record rates of 44%.
The specialists gathered in Ottawa for the occasion this year extended their reflection to the impact of two new factors: e-cigarettes and marijuana. According to Marie-Lyne Do Couto with the Ottawa University Institute of Cardiology, vaping products are not the most effective to help smokers quit. Regarding cannabis, data will become increasingly available for study after July 1st 2018, the day cannabis is legalized fully in the country.