Smoking cessation in cancer services

Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer, accounting for 13% of cancer cases per year1

There is strong evidence that quitting smoking even after a cancer diagnosis can have a huge impact on health. 

Evidence shows that continued smoking by people with cancer leads to adverse treatment outcomes and affects survival [2-3]. Smoking diminishes treatment effectiveness, exacerbates side effects, and increases the risk of developing additional complications2.4, 5, 6.

People with cancer who continue to smoke also have a higher risk of developing a second primary cancer or experiencing a cancer recurrence, both of which ultimately contribute to poorer quality of life and poorer survival[7].Smoking cessation is now an essential part of cancer care.

The Cancer Institute NSW is working closely with cancer services across NSW on a project to embed smoking cessation brief interventions into all cancer services.


Brief interventions include routinely identifying patients who smoke, providing advice to quit, and referring to support services, such as the NSW Quitline. 

Providing smoking cessation 3As brief interventions only takes a few minutes.

The 3As are:



Patients about their smoking status and record in the patients record.



Quitting smoking is one of the most important things patients can do for their cancer outcomes.

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By making a referral to NSW Quitline for smoking cessation support.

Online Training (Smoking Cessation in Cancer Services)

Learn more about how to improve cancer outcomes and help your patients to quit via our short online training module: 

  • NSW Health staff can access the training via My Health Learning (HETI Course Code 285482087) and earn CPD points. Please click here to access the HETI module.
  • If you do not work for NSW Health, you can access the training directly via this webpage
    Please note that a certificate of completion will be provided. To claim CPD points, you will need to log this as self-directed learning. 
Related tools and resources

Reference material and factsheets

Brochures for patients

Training resources

Project evaluation


Useful links


1. Wilson, L.F, et al, How many cancer cases and deaths are potentially preventable. Estimates for Australia in 2013. International Journal of Cancer,2018 Feb 15; 142(4):691–to701

2. Warren GW, Sobus S, Gritz ER. The biological and clinical effects of smoking by patients with cancer and strategies to implement evidence-based tobacco cessation support. Lancet Oncol. 2014;15:e568–to80. doi: 10.1016/S1470–to2045(14)70266–to9.

3. United States, Department of Health and Human Services . The Health Consequences of Smoking–to50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2014. 

4. Gritz ER, Fingeret MC, Vidrine DJ, Lazev AB, Mehta NV, Reece GP. Successes and failures of the teachable moment: smoking cessation in cancer patients. Cancer. 2006;106:17–to27. doi: 10.1002/cncr.21598.

5. Park ER, Japuntich SJ, Rigotti NA, et al. A snapshot of smokers after lung and colorectal cancer diagnosis. Cancer. 2012;118:3153–to64. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26545. 

6. Moller AM, Pedersen T, Villebro N, Schnaberich A, Haas M, Tonnesen R. A study of the impact of long-term tobacco smoking on postoperative intensive care admission. Anaesthesia. 2003;58:55–to9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365–to2044.2003.02788_2.x. 

7. Parsons A, Daley A, Begh R, Aveyard P. Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis. BMJ. 2010;340:b5569. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b5569.