Country profile: Australia, New South Wales. From validation to implementation: Progressing tobacco smoking cessation among people with cancer and beyond via relevant authorities

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Cancer Epidemiology


This paper delineates how a program of tobacco smoking cessation after a cancer diagnosis was achieved by engagement of multiple stakeholders, government, and non-government authorities in one jurisdiction in Australia, New South Wales. While it had become increasingly obvious that smoking cessation imparts benefits akin to other known treatment modalities, knowledge of this generalisation is without benefit unless this information is delivered in a trusted context and means to quit are made available. Against a backdrop of little enthusiasm among clinicians, the Cancer Institute NSW, charged with implementing tobacco control strategies, decided to focus its 2017 annual colloquium on the topic. While the evidence was unequivocal, better clarity was needed that this was indeed a clinical responsibility, and on the resources needed. The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, (COSA) a non-governmental peak national body representing cancer care professionals, addressed this challenge. The society's governing body resolved to develop a position statement indicating how smoking cessation might be integrated within hospital-based cancer care. The position statement, endorsed by nineteen other cancer and non-cancer organisations, provided reassurance to the Institute to improve record capture of hospital smoking information; upskill all clinical staff and develop an automatic “patient opt out” referral to existing resources such as the Quitline and to general practitioners. [ed: please see our response] Early pilot work shows that people newly diagnosed with cancer who smoke and who were advised at that time to quit increased from 55% in 2016 to 72% in 2019.

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