Smokers need better access to quitting tools: report

TORONTO – A new report says more Canadians who smoke might quit if they had insurance coverage for smoking cessation products.

The report suggests smokers in Atlantic Canada are particularly hard hit because more people in that part of the country have no drug insurance at all.

The report says it’s hard to understand why jurisdictions that fund the cost of medication to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol wouldn’t pay for drugs that help people quit smoking.

It says smoking cessation interventions are known to be among the most cost-effective in the health-care system.

The report is part of this year’s report card from the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, a group that champions policies that promote cancer prevention and the best treatment for people with the disease.

This year’s report card says when it comes to smoking cessation, there’s a postal code lottery in the country, with people in some parts getting more help to quit than others.

The article singles out Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick, saying neither have public funding for nicotine replacement products or smoking cessation drugs.

It says getting smokers to quit actually saves governments money in health-care costs.

The report also suggests employers could expand coverage of smoking cessation treatments through workplace health insurance plans.

“The expenditure needed for coverage of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy is very small compared to the billions of dollars worth of prescription drugs covered by private insurers for the treatment of smoking-related illnesses,” it says.

The report card also looked at the effect of bans on smoking in cars transporting children, saying evidence suggests these bans have reduced children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.

There had been concerns that bringing in bans on smoking in cars while children are present would lead to an increase in second-hand smoke elsewhere, the report notes. The thinking was that smokers might smoke more at home if they cannot smoke in cars when their children are with them.

But the study says that concern hasn’t materialized.

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