VICTORIA - Since B.C.'s Smoking Cessation Program launched a year ago on Sept. 30, 2011, 149,899 orders for smoking cessation products have been placed through HealthLink BC.
The program is easily accessed by calling 8-1-1, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 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 Sept. 30, 2012, 149,899 orders were placed for free access to nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) through 8-1-1. As well, over 40,000 people have obtained a prescription for a 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 ('QuitNow'), which is operated by the BC Lung Association. HealthLink BC staff can transfer callers directly to QuitNow.
Since the Smoking Cessation Program began, QuitNow has had more than 20,000 contacts with individuals interested in quitting. More than 11,000 people have registered for QuitNow web, text and telephone support.
In April, QuitNow Services further enhanced its web programs to include a live-chat service that offers instant, no-wait coaching for online members to help support their efforts in quitting tobacco. The live-chat service is 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.
Premier Christy Clark -
"Every year tobacco-related deaths rob us needlessly of friends, family and loved ones. I personally know how difficult it is to quit."
"Tobacco is the largest single cause of premature death and disease in our province, and although the numbers show that a lot of progress has been made, there is still more we can do. I'm so proud that one year later, our program continues to provide smokers with a new level of direct support to quit, to live smoke-free, and to improve their own health as well as the health of their families."
Minister of Health, Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid -
"We want to make the healthy choice the easy choice when it comes to quitting smoking. In the first year since the launch of our Smoking Cessation Program, thousands of British Columbians have taken the all important step to quitting, which is one of the best ways to reduce health risks such as cancer, heart disease and asthma."
BC Lung Association CEO Scott McDonald -
"QuitNow offers quit-smoking supports, which complement the Smoking Cessation Program. We're very pleased at the program's success and to see so many British Columbians seeking help to quit."
Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, CEO Barbara Kaminsky -
"Cancer prevention depends on healthy living and healthy public policies. We can't underestimate the positive health impact quitting smoking has. I applaud British Columbians who have taken the important next step and chosen the Smoking Cessation Program, seeking help in quitting for themselves and their families."
Smoking Cessation Program registrant, Clarence Lundberg, Surrey -
"I was a smoker for 45 years. Last year my doctor said if I smoked for one more year, I would be on an oxygen machine. Quitting hasn't been easy, but having access to nicotine replacement therapies through the Smoking Cessation Program helped me a lot. I also found additional support from the QuitNow helpline CareCoach - they really encouraged me and kept me on track. Now I can go swimming with increased endurance, my circulation has improved and so has my general health. I'm proud to say I quit."
- Total Nicotine Replacement Therapy orders from Sept. 30, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012: 149,899
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy orders by location:
- Fraser Health = 49,783 or 33 per cent of all orders.
- Interior Health = 32,955 or 22 per cent of all orders.
- Northern Health = 10,418 or 7 per cent of all orders.
- Vancouver Coastal = 21,695 or 14 per cent of all orders.
- Vancouver Island Health Authority = 30,408 or 20 per cent of all orders.
- No postal code = 4,640 or three 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: www.healthlinkbc.ca/
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)