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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

Fraser Health Launches "30 Seconds to Save a Life" Campaign

Jami Brown

Reprinted from "Tobacco" issue of Visions Journal, 2007, 3 (4), pp. 30-31

Take 30 seconds to save a life. That’s all it takes for health care workers to ask their clients about tobacco use, advise them to quit and refer them to QuitNow1 services.

Fraser Health (FH) is committed to helping their clients live a healthier lifestyle. As part of an overall Fraser Health Tobacco Cessation Strategy, FH recently launch Take 30 Seconds to Save a Live, a cross-discipline campaign to motivate health care workers. The campaign highlights just how easy it is and what little time it takes to address one of the most significant ways to improve client health: quitting smoking.

The launch of this campaign took place at the Setting the Stage: Addressing Client Tobacco Use for Health Professionals workshop series, February 12 to 16, 2007.

Setting the Stage was a response to years of feedback to the FH Tobacco Reduction Program. It addressed the need for simple, easily transferable information and training that encourages health care professionals to address tobacco use in a meaningful way. If more health care workers address tobacco use with their clients, there will be a greater chance that more clients will attempt to quit.

Setting the Stage

Hundreds of health professionals from Fraser Health gathered for the five-day workshop series to learn about integrating tobacco cessation strategies into their daily practices.

The main goals of the series were to advocate that health professionals address tobacco use with their clients—that is, undertake brief clinical intervention—and that they incorporate the use of a “fax to quit” referral system.

The brief clinical intervention training is modelled on the “Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist and Arrange” approach of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center.2 The FH campaign has adapted this to: Ask everyone about tobacco use; Advise about quitting; Refer to QuitNow.

A fax-to-quit form supplied by Fraser Health is designed to be faxed by a health practitioner, with their client’s signed approval, to the provincial QuitNow by Phone service. QuitNow staff follow up by phoning the client. (QuitNow will also report back to the FH Tobacco Cessation Strategy program, so the success of the campaign and referral sources can be tracked.) This referral system provides clients with one-on-one support to establish a quit plan through QuitNow.

Fraser Health created a series of visual resources, including a fax-to-quit referral form pad, the Take 30 Seconds to Save a Life flyer and standardized self-help materials, which were distributed to all workshop participants.

Early on in the planning for the workshop series, the Tobacco Reduction Program identified key populations that are at special risk from tobacco use and whose health professionals showed interest in addressing this issue. A day was devoted to each of these special areas, though all days provided brief clinical intervention and fax-to-quit training, as well as medications information presented by Fraser Health’s Dr. Deb Thompson.

Day one: Mental health and addictions. Research indicates that prevalence rates among mental health and addictions clients can be anywhere from 70% to 90%.3 In the past, mental health and addictions workers have not consistently addressed tobacco use.

Gail Malmo, program director of the Aurora Centre in Vancouver, shared their journey to become a tobacco-free centre (see Gail Malmo's article, Treating Tobacco Dependence in the Addictions Setting). Dr. Charl Els, who has completed clinical fellowships in addiction medicine and schizophrenia and tobacco dependence, and is currently establishing an integrated treatment model in concurrent disorders in Alberta, also provided information on how to address tobacco use with mental health and addictions clients.

Day two: Hospitalized smokers/Primary care. Primary care is the first point of entry to health care for most people. Workers in primary care can play a very important role in the overall success of quit-smoking endeavours, by providing support to their hospital clients. To improve health outcomes, hospital sites need to address the problem of tobacco use in a more systematic way.

Dr. Tim McAfee of Seattle, Washington, the executive medical director of Free & Clear, a tobacco treatment provider, shared his expertise regarding the benefits of referring patients to quit-smoking services. Workshop participants discussed, among other things, establishing an in-hospital tobacco cessation team, withdrawal management protocols, nicotine replacement protocols, and making standardized resource materials available to patients.

Day three: Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people use tobacco at very high rates (at last count nearly one in every two Aboriginal people were smokers).4 The tobacco issue is also more complex in Aboriginal cultures because of the ritual use of tobacco for sacred purposes. Denise Lecoy, provincial coordinator for the BC Ministry of Health Service’s Aboriginal Tobacco Strategy, presented the Honour Your Health Challenge, a six-week program that challenges and supports Aboriginal people to quit or reduce tobacco misuse in the car and/or at home.

Self-help resources, cessation support protocols and referral resources were provided to assist our partners (Aboriginal support services) with augmenting existing services or developing new tobacco cessation programs. Participants shared their experiences in tobacco cessation and made commitments to work on integrating Fraser Health services with their own activities.

Day four: Pregnancy, with combined tobacco cessation and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) training. Christine Urquhart, provincial training coordinator for the ActNow BC Healthy Choice in Pregnancy Initiative, and Nancy Poole, a policy/research associate related to women’s substance use—both with the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health—presented materials and information specifically for those working with the perinatal population.

Day five: Youth. Emphasis was put on how imperative it is to get youth to quit, because the sooner youth quit, the less likely it is they will have health impacts later in life. Dr. Chris Lovato, an associate professor in health care and epidemiology at the University of British Columbia, shared her research on smoking patterns in teenagers. Discussions included better practice options and introducing a guide for making informed decisions about addressing tobacco use with youth.

Systemic approach needed

It is hoped that a systemic approach to tobacco cessation—including both FH staff and external partners such as primary care physicians, dentists and pharmacists—will result in more health care professionals encouraging their clients to quit and supporting them by referring to QuitNow services. It is hoped that this will, in turn, increase quit attempts.

A comprehensive marketing strategy for the entire region accompanied the workshop series. A full-page For Your Health community newspaper advertisement encouraged smokers across FH to reach out to smoking cessation support services. Newsletter articles about the 30 Seconds campaign were created for specific populations, such as physicians. And thousands of promotional packages incorporating all of the visual resources are currently being distributed to doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other health care professionals.

Fraser Health will evaluate this system-wide approach over the next year to determine its effectiveness. Those results, along with the process followed, will be shared with other health authorities in BC.

For more information: 604-587-7922 or [email protected]

About the author
Jami is a Tobacco Reduction Coordinator for the Fraser Health Authority
  1. QuitNow is a smoking cessation program provided free of charge to all British Columbians. It’s operated by the BC Lung Association and funded by the BC Ministry of Health. Visit or phone 1-877-455-2233.

  2. US Public Health Service. (2003). Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.

  3. Lasser, K., Boyd, J.W., Woolhandler, S. et al. (2000). Smoking and mental illness: A population-based prevalence study. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 284(20), 2606-2610.

  4. Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon. (1997). Aboriginal Report. In Tobacco Use in BC, 1997 (p.E-6). Victoria, BC: Ministry for Health and Ministry Responsible for Seniors.


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