The theme for this year’s National Non-Smoking Week is “breaking up is hard to do,” but breaking up with tobacco this new year is easier for British Columbians thanks to B.C.’s Smoking Cessation Program.
Since the program launched on Sept. 30, 2011, more than 63,000 British Columbians have called 8-1-1 for free access to nicotine replacement therapies. Approximately 37,000 of these have been requests for first-time orders, representing almost seven per cent of B.C. smokers. Twenty-four thousand have been requests for refill orders and more than 19,000 people have obtained a prescription smoking cessation drug while visiting their physician for another reason.
The Smoking Cessation Program helps British Columbians stop smoking or using other tobacco products by assisting with the cost of smoking cessation aids. Once each calendar year, B.C. residents enrolled with the Medical Services Plan can receive PharmaCare coverage of a single continuous course of treatment of a prescription smoking cessation drug or a free 12-week supply of a nicotine replacement gum or patches.
After registering for the program, British Columbians can receive further support in quitting smoking from QuitNow Services. QuitNow has received more than 8,730 new web, text and telephone registrants since the Smoking Cessation Program began. For more than 30 years, Canadians have observed National Non-Smoking Week during the third full week of January.
This year National Non-Smoking Weeks runs from Jan. 15-21 and focuses include raising awareness of the dangers of smoking and ensuring residents have access to information on how to quit smoking.”Quitting is good for taxpayers who pay to treat smoking-related chronic disease,” says Minister of Health Michael de Jong. “It’s good for families who want their loved ones to be cared for and it’s good for people who want to live longer healthier lives. It’s one case where being a quitter is a good thing.”
“I was a smoker for about 17 years and while I wanted to quit, previous attempts had never stuck,” relates Nathan Cook, Smoking Cessation Program registrant, Vancouver. “The program was really helpful in that it pointed me to QuitNow Services for follow up counselling and that additional support made a huge difference in my success. “The counsellors followed up with me regularly and gave me so many good pointers. I’ve been smoke-free since November and I’m feeling great.”