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Helping Your Patients Quit

Great news was announced last week – fewer Canadians are dying from cancer, mainly because fewer of us are smoking. A recent review by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed that 50% of smokers die of smoking-related causes if they continue to smoke. It’s no wonder that both federal and provincial governments in Canada are making smoking cessation a priority.

A few years ago it was noted that of all medical interventions, smoking cessation is one of the most effective in terms of reducing both morbidity and mortality.

Close to 20% of Canadians smoke, undoubtedly a decline over the last decade. However, there is an opportunity to lower smoking rates even further to both improve the health of Canadians and lower health care costs.

Several provinces recently changed their policies around reimbursement for smoking cessation medications to improve access to these products. Past studies showed the financial burden of paying for smoking cessation medications was often a challenge for patients.

Last fall the Ontario provincial government started to reimburse pharmacists for consultations with smokers who attempt to quit. Pharmacists who have taken a recognized smoking cessation CE program, such as CPhA’s QUIT: Quit Using and Inhaling Tobacco, are paid for the initial consultation and several follow-up appointments. (Details of the Ontario program can be found here.)

Despite the benefits for both patients and pharmacists aspiring to expand their scope of practice, statistics show not many pharmacists have taken advantage of the reimbursement program. We’d be interested to hear what your experience was like if you’ve initiated this program in your pharmacy.

Our QUIT program is a five-unit, CCCEP-accredited CE course that helps pharmacists feel more confident about providing smoking cessation services. The course covers the behavioural and physical aspects of addiction and cessation, pharmacotherapy, patient care and counselling, as well as practical strategies for offering smoking cessation services in your pharmacy.

A QUIT workshop is also running June 1 before our national conference in Whistler, BC. (To find out more, see our QUIT page in our Education & Practice Resource section. Learn more about the 2012 CPhA National Conference in our conference section.)

Pharmacists can have a significant effect on smoking rates in this country by encouraging patients who smoke to make use of the various products and services that have recently become available.

Thanks for joining us,

Phil Emberley,
Director, Pharmacy Innovation