The Canadian Cancer Society is investing nearly $1 million in Quebec to help adolescents quit smoking

14 November 2012

Montreal, QC -

A team led by Dr Jennifer O’Loughlin, a researcher with the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) will receive $970,000 in funding from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute for a four-year study focussing on improving smoking cessation interventions aimed at adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Despite the recent drop in tobacco addiction, 45,000 Quebec adolescents in secondary school smoke and every year, more than 30,000 get initiated into smoking. Unfortunately, many will get addicted. By doing so, they increase their risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular diseases: one out of every two regular smokers dies from the consequences of tobacco use.

A smoking cessation program for 12-17-year-olds would enable intervention right from the first few cigarettes before an addiction develops. But existing programs have been designed for adults and do not suit them. Young people are not necessarily sensitive to the same arguments as their parents. “Children don’t smoke like adults,” says Dr O’Loughlin. “They smoke in an irregular way, sometimes only in the evenings, on weekends, or during the school year. For some, it is love at first sight, but for others, the addiction escalates slowly.”

Also, the adolescents would be accompanied for a year by young former smokers aged 21 to 25, in addition to advice from healthcare professionals. They would communicate by e-mail, telephone or text messages. Researchers will also collaborate with the Quebec Division of the Canadian Cancer Society, which manages SMAT (Short Messages Against Tobacco), a text messaging service for young people aged 18 to 24 who want to quit smoking. “We are happy to take part in this project that could ultimately prevent many cancers in Quebec, the province where the lung cancer rates are the highest,” says Jacinthe Hovington, Director, Cancer Prevention and Health Promotion at the CCS, Quebec Division.

Dr Jennifer O’Loughlin is an expert in smoking among adolescents. In the past, she conducted NICO, a vast study funded by the CCS, which followed a cohort of nearly 1,300 youths from grade 7 until they turned 26 years old. NICO enabled the gathering of data on what makes a youth start smoking earlier than another, become addicted, or having trouble quitting. To make it more effective, researchers will build the smoking cessation program from this information. “It’s the project of our dreams that will enable all our previous work to come to fruition,” says Dr O’Loughin.

For this research to have concrete results at the earliest possible, the research team is involving different actors in prevention: researchers, public health practitioners, clinicians and decision-makers. They have established long-term relationships with key organizations in Quebec, including the Quebec Public Health Institute, in which Michèle Tremblay, also principal investigator of the project, works, and the Canadian Cancer Society.


In addition to Dr O’ Loughlin, two other Canadian researchers are receiving the Multisector Team Grants in Prevention Research.

Is work making you sick?

Dr Paul Demers (Director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Cancer Care Ontario) will receive a million dollars over four years to evaluate, for the first time, the exposure of Canadians to 44 confirmed or suspected causes of cancer (chemicals, asbestos, irregular work hours, etc.) at work. His team will measure the consequences by the number of cancers, lives lost, and economic costs for employers and the health care system.

“At the end of this study, explains Paul Demers, we will have solid data which will ultimately help guide industry leaders and policy makers to decide where to change, strengthen or enforce regulations on workplace exposures in order to help prevent workplace-related cancers.”

How to reduce the number of cancer deaths in isolated communities?

Dr Joan Botoroff (UBC, Vancouver) will receive $928,000 over four years to study how health agencies must collaborate to reduce cancer deaths in isolated communities in Northern BC. The smoking, obesity, and cancer mortality rates there are the highest in the province.

Prevention research at the CCS

Since 1947, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) has supported thousands of researchers in the country by investing more than a billion dollars in cancer research. One of the priority targets of the CCS is to lower the incidence of cancer. Research can help prevent cancer by determining its causes and finding the means to protect ourselves from them. To do this, the CCS offers several grants dedicated to prevention research, like the new Team Grants in Prevention, which can carry up to a million dollars over four years. To learn more about cancer and research on the disease, please visit cancer.ca.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Melody Enguix

Scientific Communication Advisor

Phone: 514 255-2455