When people in central Newfoundland visit a health-care professional for any reason, one of the questions they’re going to be asked is if they smoke cigarettes.
If the answer is yes, the patient will be encouraged to quit, and pointed in the direction of resources in the community.
“Central Health has been selected as a project site for the Registered Nursing Association of Ontario’s National Nursing Best Practice Smoking Cessation Initiative,” said Amanda Reid, a health promotion nurse and smoking cessation facilitator with Central Health.
“They have come up with a lot of best practice guidelines that help us get the best standard of care for our clients.”
Reid said the question is asked of the patient, and advice and information is passed to the patient if they say they’d like to quit smoking.
“Even though it’s a nursing best practice guideline, it can be applied to any health-care professional,” she said.
“It goes hand in hand with our policy here at Central Health because we have a smoke-free properties policy. Each time a client comes into Central Health, they’re to be asked if they are a smoker. If they say yes, they’re to be advised that they should quit to better their health, and they’re to be given assistance.”
Reid said there are a number of options for people who want to quit smoking.
“If they’re in the hospital, they are offered nicotine replacement therapy and self-help materials, and they are offered a referral to programs in the community,” she said.
“That’s our Ask, Advise, Assist, Arrange policy. It’s a one- to three-minute protocol that we want all of our clinical people to be using.”
Nationally, the smoking rate is 17 per cent. Newfoundland’s smoking rate is 20 per cent.
Shauna Humphries is a tobacco reduction co-ordinator with the Central Tobacco Awareness Coalition. She said the Newfoundland and Labrador Smoker’s Helpline (1-800-363-5864) is a great resource available to all residents of the province.
“It’s run by the Newfoundland and Labrador Lung Association,” she said, adding that some callers may not be familiar with how the help line works.
“It’s a free service available to everybody, and we really want to stress to people that you don’t have to quit while you’re on the phone.
“A lot of people are nervous, thinking they’re going to pressure you and tell you that you have to quit, and they’re going to make you do things,” she said.
“It’s not at all that way. It’s very tailored to the person, and it really goes through and finds out why you smoke, what your triggers are, what you find stressful, and then helps you to develop a quit plan that will work for you.”
Humphries said the average person who quits smoking will make seven attempts before they are successful.
“We, as health-care professionals, recognize that a lot of people cycle through and relapse many times before they’re successful,” she said. “But during each quit attempt, they learn something.”
Reid said the smoking cessation initiative is another way Central Health is trying to promote good health.
“Quitting smoking is a very personal decision, and addiction looks different for every person,” she said.
“People smoke for a variety of different reasons. We want to make sure we are doing our part to give them every opportunity to quit, and give them every support possible.”