Brief Intervention for Tobacco Cessation: Helping Pregnant and New Mothers

Commercial tobacco use is a significant source of ill health among northern Saskatchewan residents.

In 2013-14, 41% of the northern Saskatchewan population age 12 and over smoked, including 49% of females, as compared to 21% in the province as a whole1. About 50% of northern Saskatchewan women smoke while pregnant. Commercial tobacco use leads to many negative outcomes. These include not only fertility and labor problems, cancer and heart disease among mothers, but also low birth weight, sudden infant death, asthma, ear infections and other respiratory illnesses, ADHD and other behaviour problems among children2,3,4Treating illnesses caused by tobacco places a significant financial burden on the health care system. A 2009 report attributed $167.6 million in health care costs in Saskatchewan to tobacco use5.

Best practice guidelines recommend health care providers offer brief intervention for tobacco cessation to every patient or client who uses commercial tobacco (1). 

Brief interventions have been shown to increase quit attempts and overall rates of tobacco abstinence2,6Smoking cessation interventions delivered in multiple formats and by a variety of health care providers increase abstinence rates1Counselling approaches, including brief interventions, are recommended to support tobacco cessation among specific populations of interest, including Aboriginal populations, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, individuals with mental health or addiction problems and youth1.

Brief Intervention for Tobacco Cessation: Helping Pregnant and New Mothersis an interactive training session offered by the Northern Tobacco Strategy to increase the capacity of service providers to offer tobacco cessation support to their clients.

A survey conducted by the Northern Tobacco Strategy in 2010 revealed that many health care providers in northern Saskatchewan ask their clients about commercial tobacco use but do not know how to help a client who says they want to quit. Brief Intervention for Tobacco Cessation: Helping Pregnant and New Mothers is designed to increase the knowledge of and skill in brief interventions among front-line service providers who work with pregnant and new mothers so they will be better able to offer cessation support to their clients. The Brief Intervention for Tobacco Cessation: Helping Pregnant and New Mothers is based on PACT/TAR and other successful tobacco cessation programs, but tailored to the northern Saskatchewan context using local data and knowledge and the experience and input of health care providers from the region.

NHCP Partner Organizations can benefit from this training by arranging to have their staff receive it and creating the expectation that trained staff offer brief intervention for tobacco cessation with all their clients who use commercial tobacco.

Northern Tobacco Strategy Action Team members are able to provide the brief intervention training to health and human service providers in all of the communities they serve beginning in January 2017. To arrange a half-day training event for staff in your organization contact your organization’s Northern Tobacco Strategy representative or the NHCP Coordinator (

Screening for commercial tobacco use is included as part of many routine clinical procedures. Brief interventions take no more than 5 minutes and can be incorporated into these routine clinical processes.

Encourage and enable staff in your organization to complete the remaining 4 As of a brief intervention after asking their clients about the commercial tobacco use.


1. Irvine J, Quinn B. (2016).Northern Saskatchewan Health Indicators, Social Determinants of Health: Personal Health Practices and Personal Resources. Population Health Unit, La Ronge.

2. CAN-ADAPTT (2011).Canadian Smoking Cessation Clinical Practice Guidelines. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto.

3. Government of Canada (2016).Effects of Smoking. Http://

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014).Health Effects of Second Hand Smoke. CDC, Atlanta.

5. Rhymes, J., Colman, R., and Ren, Z. (2009). The Cost of Smoking in Saskatchewan. GPI Atlantic, Glen Haven, Nova Scotia. SK.pdf

6. Chaney, S., Sheriff, S. (2012). Evidence-based treatments for smoking cessation. Nurse Practitioner, 37 (4), 24-31.