Telehealth to include smoking cessation

Press Release

Ontario is providing more comprehensive services for people who are seeking to quit smoking by transitioning telephone-based smoking cessation services in Ontario from Smokers’ Helpline to the Telehealth Ontario platform.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for Ontarians looking to quit smoking,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“That’s why it’s so vital we offer services that can connect Ontarians to comprehensive supports, be that access to registered dieticians, primary care experts or mental health and addictions counselling.

“With this change, we are making it easier for patients across Ontario to benefit from connected health care that puts them at the centre of care they need, when they need it,” she added.

As of Oct. 1, 2019, Ontarians will have easy access to registered nurses and smoking cessation support through Telehealth Ontario, in combination with other services and health information already offered, including professional medical advice, nutrition counselling and referrals to mental health and addictions support.

By transitioning these resources to Telehealth Ontario, the government expects to improve and expand frontline services and supports available to Ontarians, while saving $750,000 annually.
Telehealth Ontario is a free and confidential service for health advice and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week in more than 300 languages.

Through the service, registered nurses assess health issues, provide advice and direct callers to the most appropriate care over the telephone.
This can also include putting the caller in contact with other health professionals or services.

“We are ensuring Ontarians have simplified access to health care information and advice to make informed choices about their health, and to navigate health care easily,” said Elliott.

“We appreciate the Canadian Cancer Society for their long-standing partnership in delivering Smokers’ Helpline, and their ongoing work on smoking cessation, tobacco control and other cancer related issues across the country and we are committed to continue working with them to ensure a smooth and seamless transition of telephone-based cessation services to Telehealth Ontario,” she added.

The government also continues to fund other smoking cessation services at no cost to the patient, including:

  • Smoking-cessation services for Ontario Drug Benefit program recipients;
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy and counselling through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health;
  • A smoking cessation program for patients in hospitals, specialty clinics and primary care settings, like a doctor’s office, through the University of Ottawa Heart Institute; and
  • Smoking cessation support for priority populations in northern Ontario through Lakehead University.

To get telephone-based smoking cessation support, as of October 1, 2019, and health care information and advice, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, call Telehealth Ontario toll free at 1-866-797-0000 or toll-free TTY at 1-866-797-0007.

Telehealth Ontario provides services in both English and French, with telephone interpretation available to support callers in more than 300 languages.

Telephone calls from Ontario using the telephone number on cigarette packages will be responded to by Telehealth Ontario.

Ontario has previously strengthened smoking and vaping laws to keep harmful products out of the hands of children and youth.