British Columbians continue to light up the phone lines at 8-1-1, with almost 34,000 smokers calling for help to quit.
The Province's smoking cessation program, which launched on Sept. 30, 2011 supports British Columbians who wish to quit smoking and is accessed by calling and registering with HealthLink BC. Once each calendar year, B.C. residents registered with the Medical Services Plan can receive PharmaCare coverage of a single continuous course of treatment of a prescription smoking cessation drug or a free 12-week supply of a Nicotine Replacement Therapy product.
To date, 12,706 people have chosen to use a prescription drug through their physician and 21,072 people have registered with HealthLink BC and filled an order for nicotine gum or patch. So far, this participation represents a government investment of more than $3 million. Seventy-nine per cent of new registrants have chosen to pick up their prescription at a pharmacy rather than have the NRT mailed directly to their home. And 49 per cent of people who registered with the program in its first three weeks of operation have now placed a refill order.
After contacting 8-1-1 to register for the program, all registrants are encouraged to contact QuitNow Services for further support in quitting. QuitNow has received 5,082 new web, text and telephone registrants since the program began. Many British Columbians will be thinking about quitting as the New Year approaches. People planning to use NRTs through the program are encouraged to plan ahead to allow adequate time to obtain their supply before Jan. 1, 2012.
As part of the smoking cessation program, British Columbians have access to NRTs in the form of patches or gum. These over-the-counter medications contain nicotine and work to reduce withdrawal symptoms as they act as a substitute for the nicotine smokers would get through smoking. British Columbians do not need a prescription for NRTs.
As well, 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. When a smoker is seeing their doctor for another medical reason, they can enquire about a prescription for these drugs. They must also be covered by the PharmaCare program. The level of coverage depends on a person's PharmaCare plan.
"The response to this program continues to be phenomenal, with a steady stream of smokers contacting HealthLink BC over the past seven weeks. The effects of tobacco use place a significant strain on the health of smokers and their families as well as on B.C.'s health-care system through an increased incidence of respiratory illness, heart disease and cancer," said Minister of Health Michael de Jong.
* The health benefits of quitting smoking occur very quickly:
* After 20 minutes, blood pressure and pulse rate decrease.
* After eight hours, carbon monoxide levels drop and the oxygen level in
the blood increases to normal.
* After one day, the likelihood of a heart attack decreases.
* After two days, sense of smell and taste begin to improve.
* After two weeks, circulation and lung function improve.
* After six months, coughing, sinus congestion, tiredness and shortness of
breath is reduced
* After one year, risk of smoking-related heart attack is cut in half.
* Approximately 550,000 British Columbians smoke.
* An estimated 70 per cent of smokers in B.C. want to quit.
For more information on quitting and how to plan a please visit:
For more information on the PharmaCare program, please visit: