B.C.’s plan to fund nicotine patches and gum for smokers has been lauded by the Canadian Cancer Society and other health organizations, but the program has its detractors. The program is set to start Sept. 30.
It will provide people up to 12 weeks’ supply of over-the-counter nicotine gum or patches, or prescription pills approved by the Pharmacare program. The government estimates it will cost $15-25 million a year, depending on how many smokers sign up.
The health ministry estimates that more than 6,000 B.C. residents die from tobacco use each year. Tobacco-related illnesses cost an estimated $2.3 billion a year, $605 million of which is direct health-care costs.