The cost of quitting smoking
If you think you need some extra support to quit, there's help available.
According to the CLA website, the top three ways to help you quit are: join a smoking support group, seek individual counselling both in person and via telephone, or take nicotine replacement therapy.
The nicotine patch, gum, lozenge or inhaler replaces some of the nicotine you usually get from cigarettes, which can make nicotine withdrawal easier to manage. Prescription medication is another recommended avenue.
Self-help materials might be helpful as well, says Cunningham.
Now smoke-free for seven months, Genovese opted for a less traditional route. He used laser therapy, which he says was "quick and painless."
"A cold laser is applied to certain pressure points — many of which are on your ear — for a few seconds and this process helps promote the release of endorphins in the body similar to what you feel after you have fulfilled your craving for a cigarette," describes Genovese.
The total cost of the treatment was $250, and that included an additional two treatments if he still had cravings. It wasn't covered by his employee work benefits, but he didn't have to go back in for a second treatment.
Along with laser therapy, acupuncture, acupressure and hypnosis are some of the other "unproven" quit smoking methods listed by the CLA.
"Different things work for different people," says Cunningham. "And often many people who quit will have had many attempts before they do so."
Coverage for quitting
Many provinces now have subsidies for some people to cover nicotine replacement products and/or some of the prescription medications, says Cunningham. "But the type of coverage varies by province and ... not everyone is eligible."
In Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, better access to smoking cessation medications and programs was announced in October 2011.
For example, in Ontario, through the Ontario Drug Benefit Program (ODB), more than 300,000 smokers will receive 12 weeks of reimbursement of smoking cessation therapies Champix or Zyban. Those who benefit from ODB will have access to counselling through the Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program, where community pharmacists provide one-on-one support and advice to recipients.
However, there is a catch: To be eligible for the ODB program, you must be 65 years of age or older, a resident of a long-term home care, a resident of a home for special care, receiving professional services under the Home Care program, a Trillium Drug Program registrant or receiving social assistance.
For help kicking this costly — and deadly — habit, call the Canadian Cancer Society's Quitline at 1-866-366-3667 or visit the government's Healthy Canadians website.
Vanessa Santilli is a writer in Toronto.
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