Many different ways to seek help quitting

That ongoing message to smokers is being reinforced by the provincial government and many advocacy groups during National Non-Smoking Week.

Saskatchewan has one of the highest smoking rates in the country.

The Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey reported a smoking prevalence of 22.3 per cent in the province in 2009, compared with a national prevalence of 17.5 per cent.

Even though some age groups among Saskatchewan residents are smoking at a high rate, progress is being made, said Jennifer Miller, the vice-president of health education for the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.

“If you look back a decade ago, the numbers were really quite high,” Miller said. “Things like policy changes and legislation changes are making a difference.”

However, tobacco control must continue to be a high priority as people 15 to 24 years are becoming one of the largest group of smokers in the province, she added.

Through the provincial Tobacco Reduction Strategy, the Ministry of Health provides support to those who want to quit.

Working with the Pharmacists’ Association of Saskatchewan, the ministry provides training opportunities through the Partnership to Assist with the Cessation of Tobacco (PACT) program and its subsidiary, the Tobacco Addiction Recovery (TAR) program.

The training is targeted to health-care providers, school staff and others interested in helping smokers quit.

According to the Lung Association, smoking kills 720 people in the province every year from lung diseases alone.

To help people butt out permanently, the lung association has developed a new booklet entitled How Do You Want to Quit?

“It takes you through every product that Health Canada recommends and is available to assist people to quit,” Miller said. “We have some information on quitting cold turkey all the way up to the two drugs that are now covered on the provincial formulary, as well as the four nicotine replacement therapies that are available over the counter.”

The booklet can be downloaded at www.sk.lung.ca. It describes how to use the patch, gum, inhaler and lozenge, and outlines the side effects and benefits.

Miller advises those who want to quit smoking to tell their health-care provider how much they smoke.

The Smokers’ Helpline, offered through the Canadian Cancer Society, Saskatchewan Division, with funding from the health ministry, is another resource.

source: The Regina Leader-Post

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