The Canadian Cancer Society B.C. and Yukon is calling on the B.C. 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.
The B.C. 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 B.C., killing over 6,000 British Columbians each year. Tobacco use is estimated to cost the B.C. economy $2.3 billion annually and causes 30 per cent of all cancer deaths and 85 per cent of lung cancer cases.
We commend the B.C. 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 per cent 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, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon
Patti Moore, health promotion coordinator