Time to quit

QuitNow program is there to help those wanting to kick the habit of cigarettes.

Susan MacNeill is available to answer questions about quitting.

Susan MacNeill is available to answer questions about quitting.

British Columbians continue to light up the phone lines at 811, with almost 34,000 smokers calling for help quitting.

The province’s smoking cessation program, which launched Sept. 30 supports British Columbians who wish to quit smoking and is access by calling and registering with HealthLink BC.

“We’re encouraging smokers to review their tobacco habits and offer readiness programs to assist in quitting,” Trained nicotine intervention counselor Susan MacNeill said.

“There’s still time to access the free Nicotine Replacement Therapy from the provincial health line (811) for 12 weeks of patches or gum or prescription medication.”

Once each calendar year, B.C. residents registered with the Medical Service Plan can receive PharmaCare coverage of a single continuous course of treatment.

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.

After contacting 811 to register for the program, all registrants are encouraged to contact QuitNow Services for further support in quitting.

MacNeill offers QuitNow support services.

“Those wishing to quit can call me at 250-991-9664 to get set up in the cessation program that works for you,” she said.

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, NRTs (patches and gum) are over-the-counter medications containing nicotine and work to reduce withdrawal symptoms as they act as a substitute for the nicotine smokers would get through smoking. A prescription is not required for NRTs.

As well, PharmaCare covers the prescription drugs Champix and 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 inquire 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.