Central Okanagan  

New Year's resolution: Quit smoking

Okanagan smokers who wish to make a New Year's resolution to quit are being reminded that help is available from BC's Smoking Cessation Program.

"Quitting smoking can be the best thing you can do for your health as it will reduce health risks like cancer, heart disease and asthma," said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

"There are a range of supports in place through our Smoking Cessation Program, and accessing them can be as simple as calling 8-1-1."

Since the Smoking Cessation Program was launched on Sept. 30, 2011, 161,453 orders for nicotine replacement therapies have been placed through HealthLink BC. As well, over 45,000 people have obtained a prescription for a smoking cessation drug while visiting their physician for another reason.

The program aims to help British Columbians stop smoking by assisting with the cost of smoking cessation aids.

Once in each calendar year, BC residents enrolled with the Medical Services Plan can receive coverage for a single continuous course -- lasting up to 12 weeks -- of either a prescribed smoking cessation drug through the PharmaCare program or a free supply of nicotine replacement gum or patches.

While a prescription for a smoking cessation drug can be obtained simply by visiting a physician for another reason, the nicotine replacement therapies can be easily accessed by calling HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Smoking increases many health risks, including lung cancer, throat and oral cancer, heart disease, stroke and emphysema.

While BC has the lowest smoking rate in Canada at 14.3 per cent, there are still approximately 550,000 British Columbians who smoke. In the Thompson Okanagan that works out to about 74,000 who still light up.

Did you make a resolution to quit smoking? Take our poll.

More Central Okanagan articles