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.
Vancouver Island Health Authority recorded 30,408, or 20 per cent, of all orders in the province.
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.
“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,” said Barbara Kaminsky, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon chapter.
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 QuitNow.
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.
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.