Many Ontario pharmacists now certified to provide smoking cessation counseling
TORONTO, January 14, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - As National Non-Smoking Week kicks off tomorrow, the Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA) is reminding Ontarians that pharmacists now have an expanded role in helping patients quit smoking.
Eligible patients seeking smoking cessation counseling can now receive this service free-of-charge at many Ontario pharmacies, thanks to a decision made last fall by the Ontario government and based on the recommendations of the Expanding Professional Pharmacy Services Working Group (EPPS).
"The government's decision recognizes pharmacists' medication management expertise and their accessibility, and reinforces the vital role they can play in helping patients manage their health through important steps such as quitting smoking," said Darryl Moore, Chair, Ontario Pharmacists' Association. "This is something the Association has been advocating for over the last several years."
Since smoking is the country's leading preventable cause of death, and more than 45,000 Canadians die from tobacco-related causes each year, "smoking cessation is the most powerful and cost-effective intervention pharmacists can provide," Moore said.
Smoking cessation services are available to all Ontario Drug Benefit recipients free of charge. Based on the needs of the patient, services can include a readiness assessment, a consultation meeting and a series of follow-up sessions over a one-year period. Pharmacists can schedule appointments that fit the needs of their patients and will guide them through the process, which can include developing a personalized quit plan, recommendations for over-the-counter medications or a referral to a physician for a prescription medication if required, practical counseling on issues such as identifying smoking triggers and how to manage cravings, and regular check-ins to discuss issues such as adherence, effectiveness and any side effects.
Since September, more than 1,700 Ontario pharmacists have registered for OPA's smoking-cessation education program, and stop-smoking support is being provided to patients across the province.
Tobacco has an impact on medication effectiveness
"Of all healthcare professionals, pharmacists have the greatest number of touch points with patients and caregivers. We answer questions, conduct MedsCheck appointments and dispense and counsel on prescription and over-the-counter medications," said Moore. "This gives us countless opportunities to speak with patients about smoking cessation. And as experts in medication management, we are trained to talk to patients about smoking so that we can properly monitor drug therapy and make adjustments as needed."
While many patients are aware of the long-term health impacts of smoking, many do not realize that smoking also affects the effectiveness of medications. Tobacco affects how the body absorbs, uses, and eliminates certain medications such as insulin, blood thinners or antidepressants. When patients start or stop smoking, medications may need to be adjusted. Pharmacists who provide smoking cessation services can follow up with their patients regularly to determine how they are progressing, provide advice and encouragement, and determine whether any adjustments need to be made.
About Ontario Pharmacists' Association
The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 12,500 pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training across the province. The Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients. For more information, visit www.opatoday.com