EDITORIAL: Help smokers start stopping

B.C. takes a good first step toward real help for people fighting the addiction.

It wasn’t long ago that smoking was not only a tolerated habit, but was also encouraged as an acceptable way to unwind from the stress of the day.

From airplanes to bars and restaurants, people from every socio-economic background were targeted by tobacco companies selling the idea of smoking.

When studies began to prove the link between smoking and major health problems such as heart disease, lung cancer and stroke, it was too late to stop smoking from becoming part of our culture.

To this day, smoking is still regarded by medical definitions as a lifestyle choice rather than an addiction.

But an initiative from the B.C. government aims to reduce smoking and its effects that cost the economy billions in lost wages and health-care expenses annually.

Premier Christy Clark announced that smoking cessation tools such as nicotine patches and gum would be paid for under the province’s prescription drug program.

While critics decry the move as political posturing from a new premier trying to win not only a byelection but soon a provincial election, it is a step in the right direction to reducing smoking.

Over the next four months, Clark will develop the program further by consulting with other stakeholder groups. Studies show that people who invest financially in their own treatment are more successful, which could indicate a rebate upon successful completion of a program might be more effective.

Further support, like counselling for behavioural and emotional triggers – having that cup of coffee with your mid-morning smoke – would also help British Columbians kick the habit for good.