LETTER: BC should be covering smoking cessation products
The Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon is calling on the BC government and Liberal leadership candidates to support smokers who wish to quit by providing funding for nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) for those British Columbia smokers trying to quit.
During National Non-smoking Week, the BC government can reassert British Columbia’s leadership position in tobacco control.
Smoking cessation products help smokers quit. NRT, such as the nicotine patch and nicotine gum, combined with physician counseling have a proven record of treating tobacco addiction. Similar improvements in quitting success result from medications that help reduce cravings and minimize withdrawal effects.
Tobacco use remains the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in British Columbia, killing over 6,000 British Columbians each year. Tobacco use is estimated to cost the BC economy $2.3 billion annually and causes 30 % of all cancer deaths and 85 % of lung cancer cases.
We commend the BC government for continuing to fund QuitNow.ca and QuitNow by Phone, free smoking cessation programs that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all British Columbians. However, if we know that smoking is an addiction, we should also help pay for treatment for the estimated 70% of smokers who wish to quit.
British Columbia would become the third Canadian province to pay for smoking cessation products. Quebec was first; Saskatchewan the second (for medications only).
Let’s work together to urge our provincial politicians to support smokers who wish to quit.
Phil Janzen, Board Director, Canadian Cancer Society BC & Yukon
Patti Moore, Health Promotion Coordinator