Run towards a smoke-free life with Run to Quit: Canadian Cancer Society and Running Room launch Canada’s first program of its kind to help people quit smoking and learn to run

09 January 2013


Tobacco remains the number one preventable killer with more than 100 Canadians dying every day from tobacco use. The Canadian Cancer Society and Running Room have teamed up to help the nearly 5 million Canadians who are still addicted to tobacco with this morning’s launch of Run to Quit, an innovative smoking cessation program based on adopting running as a means to quit smoking. Early research shows that physical activity can significantly help those trying to quit. Run to Quit could revolutionize the way people quit smoking.

Building upon the successful running programs of the Running Room and the expertise of the Canadian Cancer Society in helping people quit smoking, Run to Quit is specifically designed to support participants as they overcome their nicotine addiction while becoming life-long runners. To help ensure success, participants can register with a friend or family member as their “quit buddy”, as well as involve their family and friends to pledge their support by donating to the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Despite all of the progress made in tobacco prevention and cessation over the past 20-30 years, 17% of Canadians still smoke. On average, it takes people five to seven attempts at quitting before remaining smoke-free,” says John Atkinson, Senior Manager, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. “I tried to quit smoking eight times before I was successful and running was my key to success. I am confident that Run to Quit will increase a participant’s odds of success because unlike other methods, Run to Quit combines physical activity, education and personalized support.”

Run to Quit clinics will be held from April until June at a Running Room location in Ottawa and will also be available to all Canadians online at Participants will receive education, resources and support from Run to Quit coaches; a running program that will teach participants how to run/walk 5K by the end of 10 weeks; plus additional support from the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline. The program culminates in a graduation 5K race June 23, 2013 in Ottawa to celebrate participants’ successes.

“For me, running was a way to start thinking like an athlete, and substitute a healthy addiction for a negative addiction. As a smoker, I rewarded myself or consoled myself by smoking,” explains John Stanton, Running Room founder and author of eight best-selling books on running. “Now as an athlete I make my lifestyle choices based on performance, and live life to the fullest.”

“Research shows that physical activity can be very useful when quitting smoking. Physical activity can actually reduce cravings, withdrawal symptoms, negative moods and weight gain,” says Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Isra Levy. “Ottawa Public Health is pleased to work with our community partners to enhance the services already offered to those who wish to quit smoking in Ottawa.”

Early research studies have also shown that physical activity, such as running can help about 25% of smokers to successfully quit compared with only 4% who try quitting cold turkey.

About Running Room Ltd.

The Running Room was founded in 1984 in one room of an old house shared with a hairdressing shop in Edmonton, Alberta. Today, this family-owned company is one of North America’s most recognized names in running and walking. The success of the Running Room is reliant on the fact that it doesn't just sell shoes and equipment; it sells a commitment to active living. For more information about the Running Room, please visit: or to learn more about registering for the Run to Quit program, please visit

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:

Justin Edmonstone

Public Affairs

Canadian Cancer Society

Ontario Division

Phone: 416-323-7026