Ontario takes action to help the millions who continue to smoke

The Hamilton Academy of Medicine congratulates the Ontario government for its decision to fund smoking cessation medications as part of the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, effective August 4. This is an essential element of a comprehensive anti-smoking strategy that includes prevention programs, counseling and support, and tough tobacco control measures.

About one in five Ontarians still smoke, and in Hamilton specifically, the percentage is even greater as a result of the community’s health disparities and the fact that tobacco use is typically higher among populations with lower income and fewer social support networks.

Hamilton is a community requiring a specific approach to smoking cessation. Why? Hamilton does not fit the mold - the population is diverse and represents significant extremes in terms of health:

  • A 21 year difference in life expectancy separates some of our neighbourhoods.
  • Hamilton’s overall rate of low birth weight babies is more than 30 per cent higher than the Canadian average.
  • Between neighbourhoods, there is as much as 22 years between the average age of a person suffering a cardiovascular emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke.
  • In Hamilton, the smoking population is approximately 21 per cent - higher than the Ontario average of 19 per cent.

“Smoking is not a lifestyle choice, but rather a very powerful addiction,” explains Dr. Richard Tytus, Family Physician and Past-President, The Hamilton Academy of Medicine. “I constantly see patients who struggle with their tobacco addiction every day; many who began smoking before the age of eighteen. The availability of smoking cessation medications that can more than double the chance of success for someone trying to quit is a strong step towards creating smoke-free communities across the province.”

Through programs such as It’s Hamilton’s Time to Quit, The Hamilton Academy of Medicine and its partners are working to raise awareness of the resources available to support quitters in their journeys to become smoke free.

“Ultimately, today’s announcement will help us align our efforts to support smokers who need our assistance to overcome their addiction to nicotine,” says Dr. Tytus. “This is great news, especially for Hamiltonians.”

Wendy Stewart
Hamilton Academy of Medicine
(905) 528-1640
[email protected]
www.hamiltondoctors.ca

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