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

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

Black Press Media to launch Pipeline Full of Controversy series

Series covers Trans Mountain’s history, science, Indigenous reaction, politics and economics

Toronto Raptors star to hold basketball camp in B.C.

DeMar DeRozan is hosting a four-day camp for players aged 6-16 at the University of Victoria

Military college students accused of violating Qur’an with bacon

Alleged acts by four cadets from the Royal Military College in Quebec caught on video

Canucks sign top prospect Elias Pettersson to entry-level deal

Slick centre drafted No. 5 overall in 2017 NHL draft

Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps to 1,600 hectares overnight

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 1,600 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Former B.C. police chief dies in ATV accident

Ex-Nelson top cop began his career in Vancouver

Referendum in Ireland would repeal strict ban on abortion

Voters throughout Ireland have begun casting votes in a referendum that may lead to a loosening of the country’s strict ban on most abortions.

Lava from Hawaii volcano enters ocean from 3 flows

The Kilauea volcano has been gushing lava on the big island of Hawaii for the past three weeks.

Summit talk turns warmer; Trump says ‘talking to them now’

North Korea issued a statement saying it was still “willing to give the U.S. time and opportunities” to reconsider talks

Most Read