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Archived - Government of Canada launches Run To Quit smoking cessation program

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Today, Cathy McLeod, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and MP for Kamloops – Thompson - Cariboo, announced Run to Quit, a program to help smokers quit by incorporating running into their daily lives. She was joined by John Stanton, President of the Running Room and Martin Kabat, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division).

Run to Quit is an innovative program in which participants learn to run 5 kilometres over 10 weeks while receiving support to quit smoking.

Participants will be given two options to take part in the program:

  1. an in-person running clinic at a Running Room store, offered by a Run to Quit coach trained to deliver the smoking cessation curriculum as well as the running program; and
  2. an on-line running clinic they can complete at home which will include accessible online support by trained coaches.

Each participant will receive free self-help materials developed by the Canadian Cancer Society and will be connected to the quit smoking helpline in their province or territory. All participants will also be entered into a "Quit and Win" challenge in which prizes and incentives will be provided.

The project will roll out to all 100 Running Room locations over five years. It is expected that approximately 4500 Canadians will participate in Run to Quit through in-person clinics and online training.

Quick Facts

  • Run to Quit is Canada's first organized in-person and on-line smoking cessation program based on adopting running as a means to quit smoking paired with behavioural counselling and social support.
  • Running has been shown to help 25% of smokers quit successfully compared to only 4% who quit without supports, i.e. cold turkey.
  • A pilot project of Run to Quit in Ottawa demonstrated quitting rates of 29% six months after completion of the program (smoke-free for the previous 30 days), as well as higher physical activity rates.
  • Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Canada, and is a risk factor for chronic disease such as cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease. The risk of heart disease is cut in half after one year of quitting smoking, and the odds of getting many diseases go down the longer you are smoke free.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada, the Running Room, the Canadian Cancer Society and the University of Toronto are investing $6.5 million in this initiative over five years.
  • Smoking is at all-time low in Canada, dropping from 21% to 15% over past decade.
  • Our Government has taken concrete action to reduce smoking rates including:
    • Requiring new warning labels and including updated warning messages on cigarette and little cigar packages;
    • Banning most flavours attractive to youth in cigarettes, little cigars and blunt wraps and closing loopholes exploited by big tobacco;
    • Tightening advertising restrictions


"Quitting smoking is not easy. Run to Quit takes an innovative approach to help Canadians quit while improving their overall health through physical activity. The Government of Canada is proud to partner with the Running Room and the Canadian Cancer Society to offer this program which will empower Canadians to permanently give up smoking and live healthier, more active lifestyles."
Cathy McLeod
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and
Member of Parliament for Kamloops – Thompson – Cariboo

"The Running Room is pleased with today's announcement of the partnership of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society in the Run to Quit Program. Together the proven programs will provide motivation, support and education, while instilling the discipline to lead a healthier life. Our goal is clear…to stop the incidence of smoking through education and support, all while expanding their circle of like-minded friends."
John Stanton
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Running Room

"The federal government's investment in Run to Quit, demonstrates how government, non-profit and for-profit sectors can come together to help prevent cancer and encourage healthier living. Through Run to Quit, smokers will be engaged in a new way to quit smoking while learning to run all within a supportive setting."
Martin Kabat
Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division

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Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
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