Smokers can quit for free starting Friday

Smokers who want to butt out can access free quit-smoking aids starting Friday.

Smokers who want to butt out can access free quit-smoking aids starting Friday.

The provincial quit-smoking program is rolling out B.C. wide Sept. 30 and is expected to see an estimated $15 to $25 million tax dollars spent on quit smoking aids like nicotine replacement and pharmaceuticals, said a press release from the Ministry of Health and Premier’s offices today.

By reducing the number of people who smoke, not only will we prevent or delay the onset of diseases like heart attacks and cancer but also avoid the millions of dollars cost on our health care system,” said Premier Christy Clark in a press release.

Starting Sept. 30, anyone covered by B.C.’s medical services plan (MSP) can call 8-1-1 to register for the program.

Once a smoker has a registration number, he or she will be able to get free nicotine gum or patches by mail or at a local pharmacy.

Pharmaceutical quit smoking aides Zyban and Champix are also being covered by B.C. Pharmacare, but both require a doctor’s prescription, and one’s level of coverage will depend on their plan, said local pharmacist Travis Titcomb, who works at Shoppers Drugmart on Park Ave.

Doses for all quitting aids will be supplied in four-week intervals, and quitters will need to re-register every four weeks to continue treatment.

The reason for this is so that the quitting process can be monitored by health professionals like doctors and pharmacists, said Titcomb.

In all, B.C. smokers can access 12 weeks of free quit-smoking product each year.

And while no end date to the program has been set, the Ministry of Health said the program’s effectiveness will be assessed throughout and that information will be used to determine its length.

All pharmacies in Terrace are participating in the program, although only Habitrol brand nicotine patches and the Thrive brand of nicotine gum will be covered.

Local pharmacists recommend calling to see what’s in stock before dropping in to pick up either brand.

And for those who want to quit but aren’t sure which method to try, Titcomb said a visit to the doctor or pharmacist can help to answer questions.

Correction: The original version of this story published online Sept. 27 said Champix and Zyban, both pharmaceutical drugs used to help smokers quit, will be offered for free under the new provincial program. In fact, they will be covered by B.C. Pharmacare, and the extent of the coverage will depend on one’s plan.

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