B.C. to give free nicotine drugs to help smokers butt out

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

A survey from last year showed that B.C. has the lowest smoking rate nationally, but in the Northeast the numbers are much higher than the average.

B.C. smokers who wish to quit and are covered by MSP can receive free nicotine gum or patches in the mail or at their local pharmacy starting this Friday. All they have to do is register for the HealthLink B.C. smoking cessation program by calling 8-1-1.

Varenicline (Champix) and Bupropion (Zyban) will also be covered by PharmaCare with a prescription. Residents who are eligible can receive a single continuous course of treatment lasting up to 12 consecutive weeks once every calendar year.

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The provincial government estimates this program will cost $15 to $25 million annually depending on how many people use it.

Those who want to kick the habit can register as of September 30. They are encouraged to visit www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/stop-smoking/ and www.quitnow.ca to prepare themselves to quit.

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