Public health association backs NLMA call for tobacco cessation funding

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Dr. Minnie Wasmeier. — Western Star photo

The Newfoundland and Labrador Public Health Association (NLPHA) has joined the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) in calling on the provincial government to fund tobacco cessation medications and nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) for low-income residents.

The NLMA has asked that these medications and therapies be included in the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program.  

We agree that to further reduce smoking rates and decrease the health and economic burden of tobacco- related disease in this province we need to focus on expanding cessation strategies.

“We believe that by making cessation therapies more accessible for people living with low income we will not only see a reduction in tobacco use and prevent the onset of preventable tobacco-related diseases, but we will also save our province’s health system millions of dollars,” the NLPHA said in a news release.

Dr. Minnie Wasmeier, spokeswoman for the NLPHA, said the association acknowledges the significant investments the provincial government has made, through its Poverty Reduction Strategy, in expanding drug coverage for residents living on low incomes

“Adding coverage of tobacco cessation medications and NRTs would remove a major financial barrier for individuals who are ready to quit smoking and find the cost of these highly successful pharmacological therapies unaffordable,” Wasmeier said.

 The NLPHA says the relationship between chronic disease and low income is well documented. In comparison to other groups, people living with low income experience double the rates of disease for many chronic conditions.

“Chronic disease is the single biggest threat to the health of our population and to the sustainability of the health system and we have some of the highest rates of heart disease and stroke in Canada,” said Wasmeier. “Not surprisingly, we also have one of the highest rates of smoking which is a known contributing factor to these diseases. We need to do everything we can to level the playing field so all residents of the province have the best chance to be healthy.”

 The NLPHA is a voluntary, non-profit provincial association, comprised of health professionals, community members, and affiliated organizations with the objecting of promoting and supporting public health. The association is also affiliated with the Canadian Public Health Association.


Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Public Health Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, Canadian Public Health Association

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • Tim Jamison
    November 18, 2012 - 13:08

    I'm normally very conservative with my views and I usually view the anti-smoking lobby as a scammer's paradise (it has been since the first English monarch to taste tobacco issued a "Do as I say, but not as I do because smoking is bad for you," declaration, along with a tobacco tax), but I'm afraid this proposal has merit. The cost of patches for one person for a year is a fraction of a fraction of the cost of keeping one lung cancer patient in the ICU for one month. This proposal has the potential to be a real money saver, a real relief on the tax dollars we all pay

  • Marie
    November 15, 2012 - 12:44

    I don't understand why the government should support those on low income to stop smoking. This is crazy. It is a choice to smoke and they should choice not to smoke. If they do want to stop smoking and need help they should pay for it themselves. They can pay to smoke then they can pay to stop smoking. It is totaly crazy. The money can be better spent else where. One example it people with rheumatoid arthritis has a treatment that is in hospital for 1-3 hours and the drug cost 2-3 thousand dollars per mounth. They are admitted to hospital for that time so MCP should cover the cost of the medication. I had to go to hospital for another medication every week and it was covered by MCP. I know why because of the price of the medications. I am one of the lucky ones that my insurance covers the cost of that medication but it realy should be covered by MCP. It just don't make any sencse to me. If they covered the RA medications then it can help with the costs in the long run with less joint replacements. So it make more sence to cover the RA medication that is given in hospital then paying for low income to stop smoking when they can pay for it themselves. It all comes down the the money and they realy don't care about the health of people.

  • Mike
    November 15, 2012 - 11:10

    What a farce! If someone really wants to quit, they can buy the meds instead of the smokes. Don't do it! There are better things to spend OUR money on.

  • AK
    November 15, 2012 - 09:39

    Why??? I smoked heavy for a long time and gave up on my own. Smoking is a choice. Wendy with diabetes doesn't have a choice and has to pay. For low income on welfare deduct the cost of a pack of smokes per day from their cheque to encourage them to give up. However we all know they will continue and then complain they don't have enough to feed the kids. I assume Dr. Wasmeier doesn't smoke so she doesn't know what it is like to give up but it's not impossible. We don't need tax dollars to solve this problem. We need tax dollars for roads, w/s etc.

  • Wendy
    November 15, 2012 - 09:25

    If they can afford to buy cigarettes, let them use that money towards purchasing the medications to help them stop. I have a chronic illness of diabetes and am on ten pills daily but one of them is not covered so I have to pay approximately $80.00 monthly for that.