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Local residents offered free medication to help them quit smoking

SIMCOE, ON, JAN. 3, 2008 – People in Haldimand and Norfolk counties who want to quit smoking can now get free nicotine replacement products thanks to a study being conducted throughout Ontario.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in partnership with the Ministry of Health Promotion is collaborating with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit to distribute free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and monitor its effectiveness through the STOP (Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients) Study, the first of its kind in Canada.

In order to qualify locally for the STOP Study and free quit-smoking products, people should call Health Promoter Fiaza Siddiqi at the Health Unit, 519-426-6170, Ext. 3248.

“Many people in our communities could be eligible to participate in this treatment study using nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum, a skin patch or an inhaler to help them quit smoking,” Siddiqi said. “Those who qualify in advance will be invited to a three-hour meeting at a local location on Jan. 24 to obtain information and get their quit-smoking aids.”

All information collected through the study is kept confidential.

While smoking rates in Ontario have declined over the past 20 years, 17% of Ontarians continue to smoke. This means 1.7 million people could develop serious illness as a direct result of their dependence on tobacco. Smoking is the largest preventable cause of disease in Ontario and tobacco-related illnesses cost the Ontario health care system about $1.6 billion every year.

“If people are able to quit sooner, they may be able to prevent the onset of serious illnesses brought on by smoking,” said Dr. Peter Selby, Clinical Director of Addiction Programs, CAMH and Principal Investigator of the STOP Study. “This study will allow us to help people along in the process and monitor which quitting methods are most effective. This way, we will be able to better treat people in the future,” he said.

While it has been shown that attempts to quit smoking are more successful when done with the help of counselling and a nicotine replacement medication, many people do not use this resource, partially due to cost. The study will distribute nicotine replacement therapy aids free of charge to Ontario residents whose progress will be monitored periodically to track their effectiveness.

“For those who are ready to quit smoking, we need to be there to help them along the way,” said Minister of Health Promotion Margarett Best. “That is why the McGuinty government has made unprecedented investments to improve access to smoking cessation resources for Ontarians who are ready to quit.”

“There are more choices than ever for smokers who want to quit and we are prepared to help them,” Siddiqi said. “We are happy to be partnering with CAMH and the Ministry of Health Promotion in giving the people of Haldimand and Norfolk a chance to quit smoking.”

Participants will also be given helpful information and resources, such as counselling, to help in the quitting process.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s leading addiction and mental health teaching hospital. Integrating clinical care, scientific research, education, policy development and health promotion, CAMH transforms the lives of people impacted by mental health and addiction issues.

Media contact:
Fiaza Siddiqi
Health Promoter
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170, Ext. 3248