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Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association
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The buck – and the butt – stops at the pharmacy

By Shelita Dattani, BSc.Phm., PharmD, Director, Practice Development and Knowledge Translation

Smoking is the leading cause of premature death in Canada, leading to about 37,0001 deaths annually. Many people have trouble quitting, and we can help our patients in several ways. But a recent study demonstrates just how much of an impact we can have.

The Value of Expanded Pharmacy Services in Canada revealed that for every $1 spent on pharmacist smoking cessation services, the health care system could save $9.10, amounting to billions over time.

It makes sense: more health care service at your local pharmacy means fewer visits to physician offices and emergency rooms. The direct savings come from associated conditions like lung cancer, while indirect savings come from increased productivity for both the patient and their caregivers.

The report looked at the population health and economic impact of increasing access to smoking cessation services and identified “Community pharmacists as cost-effective primary care providers” (p. 58).

Most pharmacists can now prescribe for and provide smoking cessation services. Reimbursement is available in five provinces, so a small investment in continuing education can lead to more marketable skills for community pharmacists in an increasingly competitive market. If you are an owner or manager, offering these services can lead to more revenue for your store, which in turn, could support additional staff to provide more care. The ripple effects are positive for everyone involved.

If you’re interested in developing the skills and confidence to offer smoking cessation services, I recommend the QUIT program. This 5-CEU online course covers:

  • Starting intervention
  • Addiction
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Counselling patients
  • Creating a smoking cessation program in your pharmacy

If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it’s also worth taking a smoking cessation CE program to get you started.

1.    Selby, P. Smoking Cessation. In Jovaisas, B., ed., Compendium of Therapeutic Choices 7. Ottawa: Canadian Pharmacists Association, 2014; 172.