This August 30th, it was reported that an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal was advocating that provincial drug plans should pay for smoking cessation drug therapies.
Not a bad idea.
If the official position is that smoking increases costs to public health and that cessation is an investment that would more than reduce those costs then why not. I would have preferred however that these experts would have either done their homework or at least have given us the benefits of their up to date knowledge of what works in this area to suggest subsidizing the most effective means to date of reducing the health costs associated with using nicotine.
Recent research indicates that cold turkey is more effective than pharmaceutically enhanced quitting. And while I don’t think that subsidizing pharmaceuticals undermines unassisted quitting, it does seem a little odd to send monies toward these already quite lucrative products. However, since it is quite possible that for some individuals pharmaceuticals can make a difference, why not. Whatever path is followed, someone is going to profit, so profit itself cannot really be much of an issue.
But if you are going to subsidize one very profitable industry (that is pharmaceutical nicotine products) why not subsidize the one that is even more effective. Despite electronic cigarettes helping smokers in great numbers in America and Britain, we cannot really expect them to endorse those since they are for the present and foreseeable future outlawed in this country. However, smokeless tobacco is still legal, and has been found to be much more effective in getting people to quit than pharmaceuticals. And there are none of those reports of suicidal impulses associated with some of the pharmaceutical alternatives.
This could be effected simply by a price differential and some good information and the market would take care of it. But if you are willing to send more money to pharmaceutical coffers why not as well pay for smokeless tobacco for smokers to try.
If what you really care about is a drop in the disease rates, it makes perfect sense.
-Paul L. Bergen