$3.5 Million to Make Smoking Cessation More Affordable for Ontarians

OTTAWA, March 14, 2017 – The University of Ottawa Heart Institute, in collaboration with Lakehead University’s Moving on to Being Free program, has been awarded $3.5 million to implement a new and innovative program that seeks to deliver payment cards (“Quit Cards”) to over 7,500 smokers throughout Ontario and increase capacity to enhance smoking cessation program delivery to priority patient populations.

The program, powered by the Ottawa Heart Institute’s Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation (OMSC), aims to improve access to quit smoking medications by offering Quit Cards to hospitalized smokers, which can be used like a gift card at any Ontario pharmacy to purchase up to $450 worth of nicotine replacement therapy (e.g., nicotine patches, gum, inhaler, lozenge and spray). The Quit Cards will be distributed to patients until March 31, 2017 and must be redeemed for nicotine replacement therapy by April 30, 2017. The project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

“Many smokers identify the cost of smoking cessation medications as a main barrier to quitting,” said Kerri-Anne Mullen, Program Manager for the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation Network. “In the past, easy access to no-cost smoking cessation medication on discharge has been limited for participants of hospital-initiated smoking cessation programs in Ontario.”

Quit Cards will be distributed to nearly 80 healthcare sites that are part of the OMSC or Lakehead University provider networks and the program will evaluate one and six months smoking abstinence rates among participants.

Patients who receive a Quit Card from a health professional during an initial smoking cessation consultation at a participating hospital or clinic will be enrolled in follow-up support and can access smoking cessation counselling after discharge.

“This important new program helps us offer an effective tool to our patients who smoke that will ultimately increase their chances of becoming smoke-free,” says Patricia Smith, Lead for Lakehead University’s Moving on to Being Free program. “Quitting smoking can add years to a smoker’s life and can prevent the onset or progression of serious chronic illnesses, which is why smoking cessation is the most important intervention we can offer to any patient who smokes.”

Vincent Lamontagne
Director, Corporate Communications
University of Ottawa Heart Institute