Smoker pans province’s patch plan

Over-the-counter nicotine gum or patches, or prescription pills to help smokers quit will cost taxpayers $15 to $25 million a year

Kelsey started smoking at age 13

Kelsey started smoking at age 13

Premier Christy Clark’s plan to fund nicotine patches and gum for smokers is set to take off on Sept. 30; however, a few Maple Ridge taxpayers believe the program will go up in smoke.

In May, the provincial government announced it will provide 12 weeks’ supply of over-the-counter nicotine gum or patches, or prescription pills to help smokers quit. The program will cost taxpayers $15 to $25 million a year, depending on how many smokers sign up.

Maple Ridge resident Janis Banford would like to see the government focus on creating treatment centres for smokers instead of supplying them with drugs she believes will only feed their habit.

“It’s an individual’s decision to make. It’s not easy to quit,” Banford said.

“Smoking is a very different thing. It’s very addictive and worse than heroin, in the way of quitting.

“I don’t think this program will work. There is a lot of help out there already for smokers who want to quit smoking. That money should be going towards better health care,” she said.

“I don’t think she should be involved with this because smokers have to come to the conclusion of quitting naturally on their own.”

Banford hopes in the future the premier will re-think certain plans before acting on anything.

Fellow Maple Ridge resident Kelsey, agrees with Banford.

She began smoking at 13 while in high school and thinks the government should create a grassroots campaign to help students who’re struggling to quit.

“I’ve tried the patches and the gum and nothing has worked for me,” she said.

“I think [ the premier] is going to find this program highly ineffective. It may be helpful for those who can’t afford to quit but it’s all a state of mind.”

“Most smokers start young while in school. You have to be of age to get those tools that help you quit. Kids don’t have that help,” she added.

“[The government] should start at the school levels.”

The B.C. Ministry of Health estimates that Tobacco related illnesses cost $2.3 billion a year, $605 million of which is related to direct health-care costs.

The health ministry estimates that more than 6,000 B.C. residents die from tobacco use each year.