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BC’s QuitNow makes it easier for pharmacists to help clients quit smoking This article is submitted by QuitNow, a program operated by the BC Lung Association. With the lowest percentage of Canadians smoking than ever before, it’s easy to overlook the massive toll tobacco continues to take. Each year, 37,000 Canadians (including 6,000 British Columbians) die from tobacco-related illness, amounting to half a billion dollars in health-care costs in BC alone. In total, around 500,000 BC residents continue to smoke, half of who will die from a smoking-related illness if they do not quit. The good news is that most smokers want to quit (70 per cent) and that there are proven interventions that can help them do so. So when it comes to quitting smoking, what does the evidence say? Research demonstrates that the strongest approach is to combine quit medication with quit counselling. A Cochrane metaanalysis “Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update” suggests a combined approach can as much as double an individual’s likelihood of success. Similarly, the simple advice from a health-care provider to quit smoking has a big impact. Most smokers may know they should quit, or may even want to quit, but it takes that extra nudge of a trusted professional to actually go for it. Pharmacists are in a unique position to share this advice and recommend specific pharmacotherapy that best suits an individual’s needs. In order to help you help your clients, the BC Lung Association’s QuitNow program offers a range of different services, including:


Professional development BC pharmacists are eligible for QuitNow’s one-day accredited smoking cessation training which covers everything from addiction science, to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and prescription medication (Champix or Zyban) efficacy and the basics of motivational interviewing. Note: as an alternative, a local QuitNow health promoter can pay a visit and provide brief training sessions in as little as 10 minutes. A short session will ensure you understand QuitNow’s free services and how to refer clients for professional quit counselling using the online referral program. One-on-one counselling The reality is, however much a pharmacist may want to help, some have neither the time, nor the required privacy in-store, to provide one-on-one quit counselling. That’s where QuitNow comes in. A pharmacist can provide quit medication and refer clients to try the free counselling offered through QuitNow by calling 1.877.455.2233.

"For help to quit smoking, customers and patients in Duncan regularly come to London Drugs to purchase NRT and get important smoking cessation counselling. We’re very happy with the work we’ve been doing with the BC Lung Association for just over a year now, providing monthly in-store clinics to further aid people in their efforts to quit." - Dean Bryson, pharmacist, London Drugs, Duncan, BC


In-store engagement QuitNow’s health promoters are available to provide quit smoking clinics in-store in your pharmacy. Health promoters conduct carbon monoxide breathing tests as a quick and easy way to demonstrate the impact that smoking is having on a patient's health, as well as creating an opportunity to discuss ways they can quit successfully. The more conversations you have as a pharmacist with clients about quitting smoking, the more lives you will save. Contact the BC Lung Association QuitNow team today to find out more information or book an in-store visit at 1.800.665.5864 or References available on request at

"I believe that smoking cessation counselling is essential in bridging the gap of patients attempting to quit smoking and truly staying smoke-free." - Angela Shieh, pharmacist, Save-OnFoods Pharmacy, Nanaimo, BC

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