With new supports in place for smokers in B.C., including access to treatments, the time is now for all British Columbian smokers to take control of their fight against nicotine addiction
VANCOUVER, Nov. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ - Today, heading into Addictions Awareness Week, the BC Lung Association is calling for a new type of ban when it comes to smoking - a ban on the word "habit" - in order to increase understanding that quitting involves the need to overcome nicotine addiction.
"Too many British Columbians continue to believe smoking is a habit, implying it is something that is easily overcome by willpower alone. Many people do not acknowledge the addictive nature of nicotine," said Veda Peters, Tobacco Education Coordinator, BC Lung Association. "Addictions awareness week is the perfect time to emphasize the addictive nature of nicotine and that is why today, the BC Lung Association is calling on the media, government and the public to abolish the word "habit" when it comes to smoking."
Approximately 14 per cent of British Columbians regularly smoke cigarettes and according to a survey of B.C. smokers in 2009, 81 per cent said they had tried to quit in the past, averaging seven quit attempts in total.1,2
"Quitting smoking is not easy, if it was, millions of smokers would quit today," said Peters. "As long as people continue to perceive smoking as a habit, smokers will not seek nor receive the proper support. Quitting is not an event. It's a process which requires time, planning and action."
A recent Leger Marketing survey3 of smokers, former smokers and non-smokers in British Columbia revealed that attitudes about smoking need to be changed:
- Only 38 per cent of B.C. residents believe that smoking is an addiction alone.
- Non-smokers have the greatest belief that smoking is an addiction only, with only nine per cent of these respondents identifying that they most see smoking as a habit only.
- Conversely, smokers don't have the same level of understanding as their non-smoking counterparts as almost 1 in 5 smokers (21%) believe smoking to be only a habit.
- Smokers were least likely to believe smoking is an addiction alone (24%) compared to former smokers (37%) and non-smokers (45%).
- Smokers are most likely to believe that smoking is only a habit (21%) when compared to former smokers (17%) and non-smokers (9%).
The Lung Association says that to quit successfully, smokers need to
overcome nicotine addiction.
"Quitting smoking is challenging because of the addictive properties of nicotine - which is as addictive as heroin or cocaine,4" said Peters.
"The first step in any smoker's quitting journey must be to understand the challenges they will face and recognize that smoking is an addiction," explains Dr. Khara, Clinical Director, Tobacco Dependence Clinic, Vancouver Coastal Health. "The good news is that smoking can be overcome as long as the right plan is in place. Involving a doctor or another healthcare provider in the quitting process can help you develop a plan and understand the different treatments and support services available. This will help you prepare for the some of the challenges you will face, including withdrawal symptoms."
On average, smokers attempt to quit five to seven times before achieving success and less than 10 per cent of smokers manage to successfully quit cold turkey.5,6 While organizations like the British Columbia Lung Association have resources to help smokers quit, more needs to be done.
"To this day, I believe that quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I have ever done," said Leah Heneghan, a smoker of 18 years. "After my third quit attempt, I realized how addicted I was. I decided to make a drastic change and signed up for the BC Lung Association's program, QuitNow.ca. The online community gave me the motivational support I needed and I received regular texts on my mobile phone. QuitNow.ca helped me quit for good and I have been smoke-free for two months."
Access to Smoking Cessation Treatments
As of September 30, 2011, as part of the British Columbia Smoking Cessation program, the BC government now provides 100 per cent coverage of select over -the-counter nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) or PharmaCare coverage of Champix® (varenicline) or Zyban® (bupropion) to eligible patients.
"The good news for many British Columbians who want to quit smoking is that the British Columbian government is now providing access to smoking cessation treatments in recognition of the addictive nature of nicotine and the impact smoking has on the health of our communities," said Veda. "The B.C. Lung Association applauds the government for taking this first crucial step and continues to advocate for increased access to programs and drug coverage by private payers as improving surveillance and providing training to all healthcare professionals to help more smokers who are fighting their nicotine addiction."
About the British Columbia Lung Association
A volunteer-driven, non-profit society, the Lung Association is Canada's oldest health charity. The Association mission is to promote lung health and fight lung disease through fundraising activities that support vital lung health research and patient education, support and advocacy programs.
The "Abolish the Word Habit" program was made possible through an educational grant from Pfizer Canada Inc.
Notes to Editor
About the Survey:
- The survey was completed online from May 8-19, 2011 using Leger Marketing's online panel, LegerWeb, with a sample of 1,000 British Columbians between the ages of 19 and 55 years
- The survey was conducted among smokers (n=217), non-smokers (n=402) and former smokers (n=381)
- A probability of a sample this size would yield a margin of error +/- 2.19%, 19 times out of 20
- Leger Marketing's online panel has approximately 360,000 members nationally - with between 10,000 and 20,000 new members added each month, and has a retention rate of 90%
- Panel members are randomly selected to receive email invitations to the individual surveys
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1 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS). Smoking Prevalence
1999 - 2010. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/research-recherche/stat/_ctums-esutc_prevalence/prevalence-eng.php#annual_10. Accessed September 2011.
2 The Canadian Lung Association. Making Quit Happen Report. http://www.bc.lung.ca/smoking_and_tobacco/smoking_cessation.html. Accessed October 2011.
3 Leger Marketing. Abolish the Word Habit Smokers Study. Conducted May 2011.
4 Health Canada. Nicotine. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/body-corps/nicotine-eng.php. Accessed April 2011.
5 Leger Marketing Research Series on Smoking Behaviour. Completed with smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers in 2006-2008, sponsored by Pfizer Canada Inc.
6 Hughes, J. New Treatments for Smoking Cessation. CA Cancer J Clin. 200; 50: 143-151.
SOURCE British Columbia Lung Association
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