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Terri Schneider
Senior Manager (Acting), Cancer Prevention Strategic Initiatives, Canadian Cancer Society
Phone: 519-878-5438

    • Media Releases

      Running group helps half its graduates quit smoking

      12 September 2017 – UBC, BC
      Click here to view the Press Release

      Run to Quit helps to boost physical activity and cut down on smoking

      01 March 2017 – TORONTO – Six months after Run to Quit completed its first year, an impressive 40 per cent of participants surveyed said they had quit smoking and 43 per cent said they were also running on average three times a week.

      In addition, 91 per cent of participants who completed the program said they had cut back on smoking and 97 per cent reported Run to Quit helped them to exercise more.

      Run to Quit is being studied by researchers from the University of British Columbia for its potential as a chronic disease prevention program.

      “We saw participants shift in terms of the way they saw themselves; first as smokers and eventually to runners embracing a more active lifestyle. Their confidence to both quit smoking and run increased as did their overall physical and mental health scores,” says Dr. Carly Priebe, a researcher at UBC.

      Participants’ confidence to quit smoking grew from 67 per cent at the beginning of the program to 80 per cent by week three. “Maintaining health behaviour change is really difficult, but 24 per cent continue to be engaged with Running Room walk and run programs,” reports Priebe.

      Run to Quit is a unique program that pairs the quit-smoking expertise of the Canadian Cancer Society with Running Room Canada’s learn to walk or run 5 km clinics. The step-by-step program helps smokers cope with discomfort and cravings through its simple and encouraging approach to cutting down while they become more physically active.

      “While quitting smoking is the biggest goal for most Run to Quit participants, we know that staying active is important to reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer. We were happy to see that participants really embraced exercise,” says John Atkinson, Director, cancer prevention and tobacco control, Canadian Cancer Society. “Participants who continue to exercise are doing even more than the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week.”

      In its first year, Run to Quit welcomed more than 1,000 participants in all three streams of the program – online, do it yourself, and in-store training. In-store training was offered in 21 stores in six provinces. This year, the program has expanded to include 50 stores in all provinces as well as online training options available three times per year. The program will continue to expand to more than 100 stores next year to reach as many smokers as possible.

      “Run to Quit’s pilot program shows promising results in influencing measurable healthy behaviour and lifestyle change,” said Dr. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health. “This innovative quit-smoking and active living program is a leading example of how government, the not-for-profit and the private sectors can work together to encourage healthier lifestyles for Canadians.”

      Emmanuelle Connelly was a smoker for more than 30 years. She started as a teen and tried to quit several times over the years, but it wasn’t until a routine mammogram gave her a health scare that she decided she really needed to quit urgently. Her aunt had suffered from cancer and Emmanuelle was determined to reduce her risk as much as possible.

      “I have never been physically active and the thought of having to run in public intimidated me, even more than quitting smoking,” says Emmanuelle. ”But Run to Quit’s approach to quitting smoking and getting active was done in baby steps and the group kept me accountable. Once I overcame my first craving, I knew I could quit smoking and used the techniques I learned from the program. In the end, I quit smoking and I continue to run. It’s liberating to be able to lace up and run anytime I feel like it.”

      Survey results show that 100% of participants who completed the program would recommend it to a friend who wanted to quit smoking.

      “I am a former smoker, like so many of our Run to Quit trainers,” said John Stanton, founder and CEO of Running Room Canada. “It’s been a thrill and privilege to show people through Run To Quit how to identify as athletes and to commit to an athletic lifestyle with the help of our running and walking clinics. We look forward to welcoming current smokers to be lifetime athletes with the camaraderie and support of our running community.”

      Additional information on survey results:

          • – 1000 participants joined all streams of Run to Quit in 2016
            • 184 in-store clinics
            • 71 online clinics
            • 815 Do It Yourself program
          • – 83 participants were interviewed as part of the six-month follow up survey
          • 40 per cent reported quitting smoking
          • 28 per cent were successful at not smoking for six whole months (since the training program ended)
          • 43 per cent said they were also running on average three times a week.

      Registration for Run to Quit is now open and available in all provinces across Canada. To register or for more information, visit Run to Quit is funded in part by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Thanks to quit partners NICODERM® and NICORETTE® all eligible participants will receive coupons for nicotine replacement therapy products to help them quit smoking.

      About the Canadian Cancer Society
      The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. For more information, visit or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).Make your gift today at

      About the Running Room
      The Running Room is proudly a family-owned company. It originated in 1984 out of founder John Stanton’s wish to purchase quality running shoes from someone knowledgeable about the sport. A 3-km fun run with his sons in 1981 was the catalyst for the then out-of-shape, overweight John Stanton to realize he had to change his lifestyle. A food industry executive who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, he began running secretly before dawn because he felt self-conscious about having his neighbours see “this chubby little guy” who could only run from lamppost to lamppost before having to take a walk break.

      New to the sport of running, John had a thirst for knowledge as well as a desire to buy the right product. This entrepreneurial retailer decided to fill a niche in the marketplace by opening a small one-room store in the renovated living room of an old house in Edmonton – hence the name, “Running Room.” The concept was highly successful, and the stores have since expanded to over 117 locations across Canada and the United States.

      About UBC and the School of Kinesiology
      The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. The School of Kinesiology, within the Faculty of Education, is world-renowned for its research, teaching and community engagement in the field of human movement. In 2016, UBC’s School of Kinesiology was ranked #1 in Canada and #16 in the world by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities.

      About the Public Health Agency of Canada The Public Health Agency of Canada’s mission is to promote and protect the health of Canadians. The Agency’s activities focus on preventing chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease, preventing injuries and responding to public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks.

      This project is funded in part through the Agency’s Multi-Sectoral Partnership Approach to Promote Healthy Living and Prevent Chronic Disease initiative which has invested $49 million and leveraged an additional $43 million from partners since its launch to promote healthy eating, physical activity and wellness, and to address the common risk factors that underlie major chronic diseases.

      About McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson Inc.
      McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson Inc., markets a broad range of well -known and trusted over-the-counter products. McNeil Consumer Healthcare is most widely recognized for the TYLENOL® brand. Other McNeil Consumer Healthcare brands include NICODERM® and NICORETTE® Nicotine Replacement Therapies; BENADRYL® and REACTINE® allergy medicines; IMODIUM® antidiarrheal; PEPCID® and ZANTAC® for digestive health; and MOTRIN® Ibuprofen.

      For more information contact:
      Daniel Paquette,
      PR counsel, dpPR

      For French information contact:
      Susan Fekete
      Canadian Cancer Society
      613-565-2522, ext 4985

      Running to quit smoking pays off

      September 2016 – Canadian Cancer Society and Running Room award car and cash prizes to six newly smoke-free Canadians

      Read more