Current research shows that about half of cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices and policies that protect the public. The single best thing a person can do to improve one’s health is to quit smoking.

Take Karen Hodgin, of Riverview, for example. She smoked for 48 years, but thanks to Smokers’ Helpline, a free, confidential and non-judgmental service available to Canadians who want to quit tobacco use or need help staying smoke-free, and the support of family and friends, she has been smoke-free since 2013.

Karen began smoking at the age of 14, while walking to school with her friends. “I wanted to be accepted,” she said. “Every day I’d meet those same friends and we would pass cigarettes back and forth.”

Two years ago, Karen’s husband, Don, began to suffer health problems as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke. This was the incentive Karen needed to quit smoking. It wasn’t an easy process, however, and on a particularly bad day, her daughter gave her the number for Smokers’ Helpline. From the very first phone call, Karen knew she had found the support she had been looking for.

“They told me to take it a minute, an hour, a day at a time, and to call them anytime I needed – morning, noon or night. I needed to hear that from them.”

Two years later, Karen is still smoke-free. Both her and her husband’s health have improved significantly.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

The Smokers’ Helpline is operated by the Canadian Cancer Society By phone, Tobacco Cessation Specialists (Quit Coaches) help clients with creating a personalized quit plan, coping with cravings and withdrawal symptoms and finding available supports and resources using the Smokers’ Helpline Community Services Directory. All clients are offered self-help materials and proactive follow-up service. Services are available in English and French, with interpreter service available by phone in over 100 languages.

Online, people can register to access their own Quit Centre, online support forums and a personalized Quit Meter that calculates the financial and health benefits of quitting. Smokers’ Helpline Online allows users to access both a self-directed quit program, as well as a social and peer-to-peer aspect through anonymous forums and chat.

In 2014-2015 alone, more than 760 New Brunswickers received such smoking cessation support from Smokers’ Helpline toll-free quit line and Smokers’ Helpline Online program and forums. Promotional videos done by the Canadian Cancer Society speak volumes about the strong, caring and supportive community smokers who are trying to quit can connect with to help them achieve their goal of getting rid of their nicotine addiction.

Many of the NBATC’s Tobacco-Free Living Champions who have shared their personal struggle and victory over tobacco also mention relying on resources and advice provided by the Smokers HelpLine.

The Smokers HelpLine and Smokers HelpLine Online services play an essential role in making our province – and our country – healthier and smoke-free – one proud new ex-smoker at a time.

Adapted from the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick’s 2014-2015 Annual Report.

Photos and story used with permission from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Published in October 2015

By Nathalie Landry – NBATC Communications Coordinator