TORONTO, Jan. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - This "Weedless Wednesday" the Ontario Pharmacists Association is calling on the provincial government to expand the Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program to include all patients who are looking to quit smoking.
"The Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program has been a success by any measure," said Carlo Berardi, Chair of the Board at the Ontario Pharmacists Association. "National Non-Smoking Week is a fitting time to highlight this initiative – it's proven to be both effective in getting people to stop smoking, and cost-efficient in its operation and delivery. We're calling on the Government of Ontario to expand the program, in order to further reduce the human, social and financial toll that smoking takes on our province."
Currently, the government-funded program, in which pharmacists provide counselling and medication to those who want to quit the habit, is limited to those on the Ontario Public Drug Plan. They represent almost 24 per cent of the province's 1.7-million smokers.
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario, killing almost 16,000 people every year. Tobacco-related diseases cost the provincial economy $2.2-billion annually in direct healthcare costs, and approximately $4.4-billion in productivity losses.
The province introduced the Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program in September, 2011. Since then Ontario pharmacists have provided counselling to more than 8,000 patients – and between 25 and 28 per cent have permanently quit.
"We're proud that pharmacists have been able to help so many Ontarians stop smoking," said Berardi. "But we want to do more."
The program's comprehensive approach includes nine points of contact over a one-year period between a pharmacist and a patient. In October 2012, the government approved regulations enabling an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists – including the authority to prescribe smoking cessation medications.
The program's success rate is comparable to similar initiatives. However, the cost - $150 per patient – is considerably lower than many other programs.
A comprehensive report by Accenture, released in late 2012, found that the Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program, as currently structured, will save the Ontario government $49.1-million over five years, largely due to avoided health care costs. The estimated savings for 2013 were $3.3-million.
By 2017, the savings will be $22.2-million annually.
"With pharmacist-led interventions to promote smoking cessation," the report found, "it is likely that some (smoking-related) deaths will be avoided."
But more can be done.
"There are still too many Ontarians who smoke," said Berardi, "and too many young people taking up the habit. With a government-approved and funded program administered in the convenient location of a local pharmacy by a qualified pharmacist, more Ontarians can receive the help they need to stop smoking for good."
About the Ontario Pharmacists Association
The Ontario Pharmacists Association is committed to evolving the pharmacy profession, advocating for excellence in practice and optimum health care for all Ontario patients. As the largest advocacy organization, continuing education and drug information provider for pharmacy professionals in Canada, the association represents pharmacists, pharmacy students, and pharmacy technicians across Ontario. By leveraging the unique expertise of pharmacy professionals, and enabling them to practice to their fullest potential, and by making them more accessible to all Ontarians, OPA and its more than 8,200 members are working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the province's healthcare system.
SOURCE: Ontario Pharmacists Association
For further information: Lindsay George, Ontario Pharmacists Association, 416.441.0788 x 4236, [email protected]