Canadian Cancer Society Calls on BC government to Cover Cost of Nicotine Replacement Therapies

VANCOUVER, Jan. 14 /CNW/ - The provincial government is being asked to take the next step in the fight against smoking by providing funding for nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) for those British Columbia smokers trying to quit. 

"Tobacco use remains the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in British Columbia," says Barbara Kaminsky, the CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. & Yukon. "In advance of National non-smoking week (January 16 - 22, 2011), the provincial government can reassert British Columbia's leadership position in tobacco control."

The Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. & Yukon is calling on the British Columbia government to introduce new regulations to cover costs of smoking cessation products and NRT for B.C. smokers trying to quit.

"While our province has the best cancer outcomes in the country, this step would go a tremendous way to reducing still further the number of people who end up fighting cancer," adds Kaminsky.

British Columbia would become the third Canadian province to pay for smoking cessation products.  Quebec was the first; Saskatchewan the second.  

"Addicted smokers should be supported when they make a decision to try and quit, improve their health and prevent cancer," says Kaminsky. "NRT combined with physician counseling have a proven track record of treating tobacco addiction. For a small upfront cost, the province gets an incredible return in the form of a healthier population."

Each year, more than 6,000 British Columbians die from tobacco use and the cost to the B.C. economy is approximately $2.3 billion annually.

"Second-hand smoke is linked to the death of up to 140 British Columbians each year." says Kaminsky. "Providing people with the tools to quit smoking will payoff in the long run and help end a terrible addiction."      

Cigarette smoking causes about 30 per cent of cancer deaths in Canada and about 85 per cent of lung cancer cases.  Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.  Although, B.C.'s smoking rates are at 15 per cent, one of the lowest in the country, 26 per cent of all cancer deaths in BC will be attributed to lung cancer in 2011.     

"While we have made great strides in this fight together, more work needs to be done," says Kaminsky.  "Not supporting people who want to quit sends a mixed message to smokers and to those most at risk to begin smoking: young people.  If we know smoking is an addiction, why won't we help pay for treatment for the estimated 70 per cent of smokers who wish to quit?"

Kaminsky also commends the B.C. government for continuing to fund free 24-hour smoking cessation programs through QuitNow.ca and QuitNow by Phone.

Established in 1938, the CCS is as a national charity that provides valuable cancer information services, funds research and educates Canadians on cancer risks. In BC and the Yukon, the CCS works with approximately 20,000 volunteers in close to 100 communities. 

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (BC and Yukon Division)

For further information:

Media contact:
Catherine Loiacono
Manager, Media Relations
Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon Division
Direct line: 604.675.7340 Cell: 604.837.5643
Email: cloiacono@bc.cancer.ca
Website: www.cancer.ca

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Canadian Cancer Society (BC and Yukon Division)

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