MANITOBA GOVERNMENT TO INVEST $1 MILLION IN NICOTINE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
– – – New Initiative to Help Manitoba Smokers Quit: Minister Crothers
The Manitoba government is allocating $1 million annually for a new tobacco control initiative aimed at helping Manitobans to quit smoking by providing free nicotine replacement therapy products to eligible smokers, Healthy Living and Seniors Minister Deanne Crothers announced today.
“It’s never easy to stop smoking but we are investing in this program to provide more options to help,” said Minister Crothers. “We believe in preventing Manitobans from starting to smoke, and helping smokers quit. In the long run, these investments will help to reduce health-care costs for all Manitobans.”
The minister said up to 6,000 eligible Manitobans who join the nicotine replacement therapy program (NRT) will receive up to eight weeks of NRT each year. Several products, including patches, gum and lozenges, will be available free of charge.
The Manitoba Lung Association will lead the implementation and management of the program, working in collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Society and the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance. More details on how the products will be distributed to Manitobans will be available from the Lung Association this spring when the program is expected to launch, Minister Crothers said.
She noted the funding is part of a larger initiative that will directly support the Manitoba Tobacco Control Strategy. As part of this strategy, thegovernment also announced in late 2015 that it would step up its fight against tobacco use by offering grants of up to $100,000 annually for non-government organizations to work on projects focused on preventing youth from starting to smoke and helping smokers quit.
Manitoba is recognized as a leader in the fight against tobacco use. Previous provincial tobacco reduction initiatives include:
being the first province to introduce a provincewide smoking ban in enclosed public places and indoor workplaces, and the first to make playgrounds and beaches in provincial parks smoke-free;
introducing restrictions on the display, advertising and promotion of tobacco products in stores;
prohibiting tobacco sales in pharmacies, stores containing a pharmacy, health-care facilities and from vending machines;\
the creation of SWAT teams, a peer-led anti-tobacco program and there are currently 45 SWAT teams operating in high schools throughout the province; and
making it illegal to smoke in a private vehicle when someone under the age of 16 is present.
The minister noted that along with the efforts of partners in tobacco control, provincial initiatives have contributed to reducing tobacco use among Manitobans. According to the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, smoking rates for Manitobans 15 and over have declined to 17 per cent in 2013 from 23 per cent in 1999. Smoking rates for youth ages 15 to 19 have declined even more, to 13 per cent in 2013 from 29 per cent in 1999.
“We applaud the investments made by the province to reduce smoking rates and to improve the lung health of Manitobans,” says Margaret Bernhardt-Lowdon, executive director, Manitoba Lung Association. “This investment will also help ease the burden on the health-care system. For every dollar invested in tobacco prevention programs, up to $20 will be saved in future health-care costs.”