A program developed by Ottawa doctors to help people quit smoking is getting international attention.

In 2002, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute created the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation — a program that helps people quit smoking by changing how doctors approach the issue.

"Our immediate goal is not to help smokers quit, it's actually to help providers change their attitudes and the way they do things," said project manager Mustafa Coja.

Details about the Ottawa model were shared Friday at the eighth annual Ottawa Conference on Smoking Cessation, which took place at the Westin Hotel Friday through Saturday.

The model encourages health practitioners to adopt a non-judgemental attitude when meeting patients. It also encourages regular followups, Coja said.

Quitting rates spike under model, says institute

The heart institute has tracked its effectiveness and research suggests there has been an 11-per-cent increase in quitting rates since the program was implemented in 2002.

About 30 per cent of patients who use the program successfully quit long term.

"It's as simple as asking more often, asking our patients every time we see them, have you used any form of tobacco in the last seven days?" Coja said.

ottawa smoking cessation conference Kerri-Anne Mullen Mustafa Coja

Mullen and Coja say the Ottawa Model for smoking cessation is being used in more than 350 health care sites across Canada and is now generating international interest. (Sherry Aske/CBC Ottawa)

The heart institute began to expand their model to other provinces in 2007, and more than 350 hospitals and health care centres have now implemented it, said network manager Kerri-Anne Mullen.

"This program is all based on evidence," Mullen said. "We've been able to demonstrate that the support we've provided patients actually works."

Model used in U.S., U.K., China

Other countries are also using the Ottawa's strategy, Mullen said, including health care sites in the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Uruguay and Singapore.

The Heart Institute is also currently working with health care practitioners in Jamaica and Greece.

"It has to do with almost franchising the model," Mullen said.

"We're really starting to see the international interest grow."