B.C. quit-smoking plan attracts critics

B.C.'s plan to fund nicotine patches and gum for smokers has been lauded by the Canadian Cancer Society and other health organizations, but the program has its detractors.

Premier Christy Clark and cancer survivor Denton Bailey announce program to fund nicotine therapy starting Sept. 30.

VICTORIA – B.C.’s plan to fund nicotine patches and gum for smokers has been lauded by the Canadian Cancer Society and other health organizations, but the program has its detractors.

Public feedback since the program was announced in May include a variety of criticisms, according to documents released by Premier Christy Clark’s office under freedom of information legislation.

The program is set to start Sept. 30. It will provide people up to 12 weeks’ supply of over-the-counter nicotine gum or patches, or prescription pills approved by the Pharmacare program. The government estimates it will cost $15-25 million a year, depending on how many smokers sign up.

“As a physician, I am a bit ambivalent about your decision to fund nicotine replacement, as along with the drug there is also need for counselling and follow-up,” said one response posted on B.C.’s new open information website.

Others objected to the decision to spend millions on nicotine replacement, while diabetics and other chronic disease patients have to pay to treat conditions they did not bring upon themselves. A Kelowna resident cited the example of treatment for his wife’s sleep apnea, including $100 a month in medicine and $2,000 for a machine recommended by her family doctor and cardiologist.

“I honestly believe it is outright wrong to pay for this when smokers made a choice to start smoking and continue to make a choice every time they light up,” he said.

A former smoker who quit before nicotine replacement was available also objected.

“I realize [nicotine replacement] is expensive, but so are cigarettes,” the ex-smoker wrote. “If a person is desirous of quitting, then don’t buy cigarettes, buy the patch instead.”

Others urged the B.C. government to extend the program to cover stop-smoking treatments that use lasers, acupuncture and other treatments. Several hypnotherapists sent a form letter urging the government to extend coverage to their form of smoking treatment.

The health ministry estimates that more than 6,000 B.C. residents die from tobacco use each year. Tobacco-related illnesses cost an estimated $2.3 billion a year, $605 million of which is direct health-care costs.

Just Posted

Island Health, service providers meeting to talk about used needles in Victoria

Recent public needle-prick incidents prompt call to reduce number of needles found

Announcement for Sooke Road improvement expected this week

Premier promising ‘preliminary’ work, with more on the way

Dozens rally outside Premier’s office for sick Sooke boy

Six-year-old Landen Lanthier needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Sooke’s Most Wanted

The following individuals are wanted by the Sooke RCMP as of Jan.… Continue reading

Victoria airport reaches nearly two million passengers in 2017

This year expected to see additional growth

Community rallies behind Sooke boy with rare condition

Dozens called on government to cover cost of drug for six-year-old Landen Alexa

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

Wanted by Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers for the week of Jan. 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

LETTERS: More roads? More Cars? No thanks.

Climate change is real. Ecological destruction is real. Who out there who… Continue reading

LETTERS: Sooke roads not racetracks

What can we as a community do about the blatant law breakers… Continue reading

Most Read