BC makes quitting smoking a little easier

Changes to the BC Smoking Cessation Program include more products and easier access.

Changes to the BC Smoking Cessation Program have made quitting smoking a little easier. The expanded program now covers more products and has made access to the program easier.

To be eligible, you must be a resident of BC with active Medical Service Plan coverage and be a smoker or chewer of tobacco. Patients no longer have to call and obtain a registration number from HealthLinkBC, they can now access to the program directly through their local pharmacy.

“Quitting smoking is the most important life change that people can make to reduce the risk of a wide variety of diseases,” said Josh McPherson, a pharmacist with Shoppers Simply Pharmacy in Castlegar. “If anyone is contemplating quitting smoking, I strongly urge them to visit their local pharmacist and get started,” added McPherson.

The program covers 100% of the cost of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products or contributes towards the cost of specific smoking cessation prescription drugs.

The new list of NRT products covered includes gums, lozenges, patches and inhalers. A person can receive a single continuous course of treatment (up to 12 weeks or 84 days in a row) with NRTs each calendar year.

To access the NRT portion of the program you can simply visit your local pharmacy. The pharmacist will talk to you about health issues and other risks to make sure the program is right for you and then you and the pharmacist must sign a declaration form.

Coverage for the prescription cessation drug portion of the program is done through PharmaCare. To access this part of the program you must make sure you are registered with Fair PharmaCare and visit your doctor in order to obtain a prescription.

Additional support for those wishing to stop smoking can be found at Quitnow.ca. The resource provides one-on-one support and valuable resources in multiple languages to help you plan your strategy before you get your smoking cessation aids. It also offers a medication guide, stories from other British Columbians who have quit and videos on how to use nicotine patches and gum to get the right amount of nicotine and avoid withdrawal symptoms.