Pharmacists Manitoba Practice Advisor, Tim Smith: Provincial program seeks to assist smokers ditch habit

On April 1, 2022 / News

Butting-out could become a bit easier for Manitobans, as pharmacists prepare to offer counselling and nicotine replacement therapy for those ready to ditch the habit. More than 170 pharmacies are participating in a new smoking cessation program intended to improve quit rates for people with tobacco dependency.

Up to 4,500 people are expected to enroll in the program over a three-year period, Mental Health Minister Sarah Guillemard said Friday.

“I personally know that smoking is very difficult to quit and most people need to try more than one time in order quit successfully,” Guillemard said during an announcement at Pembina Drugs in the Fort Richmond area of Winnipeg. “Research shows that people with access to smoking cessation counselling are up to 40 per cent more likely to quit successfully.”

The $2-million program will be funded by Shoppers Drug Mart, and based on results, the corporation will receive up to $2.12 million from the provincial government through a social impact bond.

There is no cost for Manitobans to participate in the program and additional pharmacies are expected to offer the program as it rolls out.

Pharmacists taking part have received special training in smoking cessation and behaviour change to help their clients quit tobacco for good, Pharmacists Manitoba practice adviser Tim Smith said.

According to Pharmacists Manitoba, the program include a 60-minute session with a pharmacist to create a personalized plan. Up to nine follow-up appointments are also included, which can take up to 15 minutes each. A $100 subsidy for nicotine replacement therapies or prescribed medications is also available.The program’s success will be measured by the number of participants and quit rates.

Smith said pharmacists must register 1,500 Manitobans in the program in the first 18 months in order for the program to meet criteria for the social impact bond.

Further, 12 per cent of the participants must have quit smoking at both the six- and 12-month mark, while six per cent of participants must have quit smoking at the 24-month mark.

More than $1 million in health-care costs a year will be saved if the program is successful at helping Manitobans quit smoking, the province said.

The program ( was first announced in December 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the Winnipeg Free Press article here.