Quit Smoking and Cancer Treatment

The Tobacco Cessation and Relapse Prevention Program is for clients of the PEI Cancer Treatment Centre.

Am I eligible?

You are eligible for the program if you are a client of the Cancer Treatment Centre who:

  • currently uses tobacco and would like to quit;
  • currently uses tobacco and is not ready to quit; or
  • has recently quit and would like support in staying tobacco-free.

What information and support is available to help me?

  • Educational discussions and counselling with trained staff;
  • Information and resource materials;
  • Follow-up support throughout and after your cancer care; and
  • Staff support for having the best treatment possible.

How can quitting smoking and other forms of tobacco benefit my cancer treatment?

Quitting smoking or other forms of tobacco use is one of the best things you can do to help your cancer treatment. Quitting can reduce the chance of your cancer returning or developing another form of cancer. Whether you are scheduled to have radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery, quitting tobacco will help you.

Radiation Therapy

  • Radiation therapy works better if the level of oxygen in your body is normal. When you smoke, the level of oxygen in your blood drops, making it harder for radiation to do its job.
  • If you cannot stop using tobacco, avoid using tobacco before and after your radiation therapy.


  • Chemotherapy drugs work better in people who do not use tobacco.
  • Tobacco smoke has chemicals in it that reduce the blood level of some chemotherapy drugs, making them less effective.


  • Quitting tobacco can make surgery safer and help you recover more quickly. If possible, try to quit at least 6-8 weeks before your operation; however, quitting at any time is helpful.
  • People who do not use tobacco:
    • are less likely to have complications during or after their surgery;
    • are less likely to develop infections and are more likely to heal quickly; and
    • may get better faster and go home sooner.

How do I get help at the PEI Cancer Treatment Centre?

Ask any member of your cancer care team including doctors, nurses, radiation therapists, cancer patient navigator, or social worker about support for quitting tobacco any time during your care at the PEI Cancer Treatment Centre.

What is the best way to quit?

The best way to quit using any form of tobacco is to use both counselling and medication together as this can triple the chance of success. Start by talking to:

  • your cancer care team - ask about tobacco cessation services or counseling;
  • your family doctor or nurse practitioner;
  • your pharmacist;
  • a Quit Coach at Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333*;
  • a community of other quitters at smokershelpline.ca; or
  • the PEI Quit Care Program – there may be financial support available.

*Smokers' Helpline operates seven days a week. By phone, hours of operation are:

Monday - Thursday:   9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday:  9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday:  10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

What if I am already taking quit medications like Zyban® or the patch?

Bupropion (Zyban®), varenicline (Champix®), the patch, nicotine gum, lozenges, mouth sprays and inhalers are all mediations, so please let your nurse or doctor at the cancer centre know as soon as you start using these products.

Is there a cost for this support?

Quit counselling and information resources are free of charge. If you decide to use quit medications or therapies like the patch, and they are not covered under your insurance or drug plan, they will be at your expense. Please ask about financial support.

The information presented has been produced in collaboration with Ontario’s Regional Cancer Programs, the Canadian Cancer Society Smokers’ Helpline, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.


Published date: 
January 10, 2020
Health PEI logo

General Inquiries

Health PEI
16 Garfield Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6130
Fax: 902-368-6136


Your Health Privacy

Media Inquiries
Phone: 902-368-6135

Health PEI Board of Directors

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

If you are unsure what to do about a health issue or if you need health information, call 8-1-1.

811 logo