New tools to help Manitobans quit during National Non-Smoking Week

18 January 2012

Winnipeg, Manitoba -

This is the week that many of the nearly 85,000 Manitobans who will try to quit smoking this year will make an attempt to break off a dangerous relationship with tobacco.


And the good news for people looking to kick-start their efforts to quit during National Non-Smoking Week (Jan. 15-21) is that the options available to help Manitobans go tobacco free have never been greater.


New for 2012, The Canadian Cancer Society will launch Break It Off – a new digital campaign funded by Health Canada to promote tobacco cessation among young adults, age 19-29, who have the highest smoking rate in the country.


“People successfully quit smoking in many ways, and we have all sorts of tools to help them improve their chance of success,’’ said Will Cooke, Tobacco Advocacy Coordinator at the Canadian Cancer Society. “It’s all about helping people quit and improving their odds of staying tobacco free.”


Manitoba continues to have one of the highest smoking rates in Canada with about one in five Manitobans lighting up. Approximately 85% of lung cancer is caused by smoking and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Manitoba.  This year, 680 Manitobans are expected to lose their life due to lung cancer.


To help people understand the challenges of giving up tobacco, the Canadian Cancer Society challenged three Manitobans to share their experiences as they try to quit smoking. Blythe Dawshka, Nichole Ironstand and Kyla Letkemann each have their own motivation for trying to quit and all are determined to be successful. Each will share their experience with web-site and facebook posts over the next six months. You can learn more about Dawshka, Ironstand and Letkemann and follow their journey by going to and to encourage them in their efforts go to 


“We know that 47% of Manitobans who smoke try to quit every year,’’ Cooke said. “Each has their own story, each their own personal struggle.


“We all know someone trying to do this and we should all do out part to help them be successful.”


No matter where you live in Manitoba, the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline is here to help those looking to quit smoking. By calling toll-free 1-877-513-5333 Manitobans have access to the confidential, bilingual support services from trained specialists who are there to provide information, advice and help you develop a specific strategy live tobacco free. These Quit Coaches also provide advice and strategies for people who want to help friends and loved ones quit smoking.


The Cancer Society has also developed the Smokers’ Helpline Online, a support system that provides tips, tools and help for those who are trying to quit.  It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please visit for more information.

There are also new options in the province. Cooke said the provincial government’s recent decision to add the stop smoking medication Champix to the Pharmacare program will provide an affordable drug therapy for Manitobans who want to quit.


Cooke added that for younger Manitobans like Ironstand, Dawshka and Letkemann, the Break It Off campaign at offers an option that younger people can relate to. About 27% of Manitobans 20 to 24 are still lighting up. Break It Off uses a “breakup” metaphor, that comparing quitting smoking with ending a romantic relationship to encourage young Canadians to “break up” with their smoking addiction.


The Break It Off website is a resource hub for users to learn about proven quit methods, such as phone counselling, patches, gums, and inhalers. It also has fun, interactive social media features. Users can download a free mobile app for instant support when they are “stressed, angry, tipsy or bored.” They can see how many cigarettes have been “dumped” by their peers who have used Break It Off. Users can also upload a video of themselves “breaking up” with cigarettes (a public break up can greatly increase your chances of dumping smoking for good.) Videos will be collected on YouTube with the goal of creating “the world’s biggest break up” with smoking.


Fact Box

Short-term Challenges for Long-term Benefits


  • Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals including about 70 known carcinogens that cause and promote cancer


  • Withdraw symptoms start within the first four hours of your last cigarette, peaking within three to five days and diminishing over a six month period. The symptoms include:
    • Headaches
    • Anxiety and irritability
    • Difficulty concentrating and sleeping
    • Hunger
    • Craving for nicotine


Long Term Benefits


  • After 2 days the risk of heart attack begins to decrease
  • Within just 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste improve and return to normal
  • After 3 days your lung capacity will have increased, making breathing easier
  • After the first year the risk of heart attack is cut in half
  • Within 10 years the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half
  • Within 15 years, the risk of dying from a heart attack is equal to a person who never smoked
  • Quitting smoking is the best thing smokers can do to improve their health

Canadians can join the Break It Off community at


About Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline

Smokers’ Helpline is a free, confidential service that provides personalized support, advice and information about quitting smoking and tobacco use. Operated by the Canadian Cancer Society and available in six provinces and one territory, Smokers’ Helpline can be accessed free at 1 877 513-5333 and

About National Non Smoking Week

National Non-Smoking Week has been observed for more than 30 years. It is one of the longest running and most important events in Canada’s ongoing public health education efforts. It was established in 1977 by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control.

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit today.

For more information, please contact:

Jason Permanand

Communications Manager

Canadian Cancer Society


Phone: 204-990-4310