More than 13,000 men and women in Quebec (about 36 per day) die each year from tobacco-related diseases. Although the prevalence of tobacco use has declined in the past decade, there are still 1.6 million smokers in the province who inhale more than 4,000 chemical products each day, at least 50 of which are carcinogenic.
Since 2003, the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec (MSSS) has supported the implementation of the Plan québécois d'abandon du tabagisme. The objective of this province-wide program is to encourage smokers to quit, and to provide support for them in their efforts to quit. A range of free services have been implemented in Quebec progressively over the past four years, including a telephone helpline, a Web site on tobacco use cessation, and counselling services at smoking cessation centres located throughout the province.
In 2004, the MSSS mandated the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) to develop, in partnership with the Boards of six Professional Orders (i.e., Collège des médecins, Ordre des dentistes, Ordre des hygiénistes dentaires, Ordre des inhalothérapeutes, Ordre des pharmaciens and Ordre des infirmiers et infirmières), a project that encourages their members to become more actively involved in tobacco control. In the context of this project, dental hygienists are urged to integrate smoking cessation counselling into their daily practice.