VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Anti-smoking groups want British Columbia to join two other Canadian provinces in subsidizing smokers trying to kick the habit.
Quebec and Saskatchewan now provide assistance with paying for anti-tobacco medication and counseling, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Diego Marchese, chief executive of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of British Columbia, said Friday many smokers need subsidies because the Canadian health system and most private plans do not cover them.
Barbara Kaminsky of the Canadian Cancer Society of British Columbia and the Yukon said smoking should be considered a chronic condition.
"Not supporting people who want to quit sends a mixed message to smokers and to those most at risk to begin smoking -- young people," said Kaminsky. "If we know smoking is an addiction, why won't we help pay for treatment for the estimated 70 percent of smokers who wish to quit?"
A survey by the Lung Association of British Columbia and the Heart and Stroke Foundation found there are 55,000 smokers in the province, with two-thirds saying they would like to give up cigarettes.