Author Topic: B.C.'s quit smoking program hits 100,000 mark  (Read 1698 times)

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B.C.'s quit smoking program hits 100,000 mark
« on: April 18, 2012, 05:33:36 PM »
B.C.'s quit smoking program hits 100,000 mark

By Cindy E Harnett, April 18, 2012 2:14 PM

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Orders for a program that helps smokers kick their habit has hit the 100,000 mark, the government announced Wednesday.

Since B.C.’s smoking cessation program launched six months ago, 104,736 orders have been placed through HealthLink B.C.

Vancouver Island residents have the third highest uptake — at 21,058 orders — after the Fraser Health region at 34,373 orders and Interior Health at 23,639.

“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,” said Health Minister Mike de Jong, in a news release.

The program is accessed by calling 8-1-1. It assists with the cost of smoking cessation aids.

Each year, B.C. residents who are enrolled under the Medical Services Plan are entitled to PharmaCare coverage. According to the rules of your plan, you are entitled to a single continuous course of a prescribed smoking cessation drug —varenicline (Champix) and bupropion (Zyban) — or a free 12-week supply of over-the-counter nicotine replacements —either Thrive nicotine chewing gum or Habitrol nicotine patches , according to the government.

The program is not available to people who are not residents of B.C. or who are otherwise covered under similar federal programs — such as those in the Canadian Forces the RCMP.

That exemption had also applied to Veterans Affairs Canada but after at least one veteran complained he wanted to quit but was unable to access the B.C. smoking cessation program, the province changed its rules.

The province now allows veterans to register through its program and go directly to a pharmacist in order to immediately access either smoking cessation drugs or nicotine replacements. The province is reimbursed by the federal government.

More than half of the orders for smoking cessation assistance were first-time orders, according to the government.

Nicotine replacement therapies are sold over-the-counter medications that contain nicotine and work to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

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.

B.C. residents can also access QuitNow Services, which is operated by the BC Lung Association.

HealthLink B.C. 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.

At the end of this month, QuitNow services will offer a live-chat coaching — from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays — for online members to help support their efforts in quitting tobacco.

For more information:

• call 8-1-1 or visit:

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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