VICTORIA - Since B.C.'s Smoking Cessation Program launched just over six months ago, more than 100,000 orders for smoking cessation products have been placed through HealthLink BC.
The program is easily accessed by calling 8-1-1 and aims to help British Columbians stop smoking by assisting with the cost of smoking cessation aids. Once in each calendar year, B.C. residents enrolled with the Medical Services Plan can receive PharmaCare coverage for a single continuous course of a prescribed smoking cessation drug or a free 12-week supply of nicotine replacement gum or patches.
Between Sept. 30, 2011 - the program's launch date - and March 31, 2012, 104,736 orders were placed for free access to nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) through 8-1-1. More than 50,000 of these requests have been first-time orders, representing more than nine per cent of B.C. smokers. More than 29,000 people have obtained a prescription smoking cessation drug while visiting their physician for another reason.
NRTs are over-the-counter medications that contain nicotine and work to reduce withdrawal symptoms. They act as a substitute for the nicotine smokers would get through smoking.
Through the Smoking Cessation Program, PharmaCare covers the prescription drugs varenicline (Champix) and bupropion (Zyban). These drugs do not contain nicotine, but work on the brain to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings and reduce the urge to smoke.
British Columbians who register with the program are able to receive further support from QuitNow Services, which is operated by the BC Lung Association. HealthLink BC staff can transfer callers directly to Quit Now Services and QuitNow has received more than 15,800 new web, text and telephone registrants since the Smoking Cessation Program began.
Beginning the end of April 2012, Quit Now Services will further enhance its web programs to include a live-chat service that will offer real-time, one-on-one coaching for online members to help support their efforts in quitting tobacco. The live-chat service will be staffed by QuitNow coaches from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The service will indicate when a coach is available. When a member types in a question, it will be directed to an available coach.
Minister of Health Michael de Jong -
"We recognize the efforts of thousands of British Columbians who, over the past six months, have already taken steps to quit through the Smoking Cessation Program."
"The program supports British Columbians who wish to improve their health and recognizes that quitting smoking is one of the best ways to improve our health and reduce the health risks associated with chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and asthma."
Scott McDonald, CEO of the BC Lung Association -
"We are pleased that the variety of tools offered by QuitNow Services complement the Smoking Cessation Program."
"Our new live chat service, to be launched by late April, adds to our suite of online tools and provides a convenient new option for British Columbians to receive advice and support with quitting smoking."
Ken D., Smoking Cessation Program registrant, Surrey -
"I was a smoker for 35 years and quitting certainly hasn't been easy. I'd tried to quit in the past and I was a bit skeptical, but access to nicotine replacement therapies through the Smoking Cessation Program and additional support from QuitNow online has worked really well for me. I am proud to say that I've now been tobacco-free for more than six months."
Total Nicotine Replacement Therapy orders from Sept. 30, 2011 through March 31, 2012: 104,736
Nicotine Replacement Therapy orders by location:
- Fraser Health = 34,373 or 33 per cent of all orders
- Interior Health = 23,639 or 23 per cent of all orders
- Northern Health = 6,870 or 7 per cent of all orders
- Vancouver Coastal = 14,763 or 14 per cent of all orders
- Vancouver Island Health Authority = 21,058 or 20 per cent of all orders
- No postal code = 4,033 or 4 per cent of all orders
Looking for more information on quitting smoking? Please visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/stop-smoking/
Looking for support or information on how to plan a quit? Check out: www.quitnow.ca
For more information on the PharmaCare program, visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/
For general health-related questions, call 8-1-1 or visit: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)