Central Albertans who need help sticking to their New Year’s resolution to quit smoking can access a free six-week program that now offers free nicotine replacement therapy.
QuitCore, a tobacco-cessation program run by Alberta Health Services, starts on Jan. 17 and can accommodate 16 people.
“They’re getting the group support for six weeks, going through all the behavioural support, but they’re also getting free access to nicotine replacement therapy,” said Darrel Melvin, program consultant with AHS tobacco reduction program, on Tuesday.
“What we know from success rates of people who quit, when you offer the support and the pharmaceutical therapy together, people get the best possible outcomes.”
He said last summer QuitCore started providing up to $500 of nicotine replacement therapy through Blue Cross to participants which is enough for 12 weeks.
Other community programs don’t offer free nicotine replacement therapy, he said.
The results of an evaluation on the impact of adding nicotine replacement therapy to the program will be known in the spring.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing what kind of changes we’ll see. One of the things we’ve already seen is we’re getting more interest, more people are attending, more people are finishing.”
AHS says tobacco is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and premature death in Alberta. Tobacco causes more than 3,000 deaths each year across the province and many more Albertans suffer from tobacco-related illnesses.
QuitCore will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Johnstone Community Health Centre, at 300 Jordan Parkway.
To register call toll-free 1-866-710-QUIT (7848). More information is also available at www.albertaquits.ca.
Melvin said QuitCore is offered in 20 Alberta communities and will run five times in Red Deer this year.
“What QuitCore does is help people explore what their own level of nicotine addiction is and all the ways tobacco is woven into their life, and develop their own strategies for what’s going to work best for them to be able to quit, and getting that support from other group members at the same time.”