An editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) says that Canada should follow the lead of Quebec, Australia and the United Kingdom by publicly funding smoking cessation pharmacotherapies.
Some 5.5 million Canadians (19% of the population) currently use tobacco, a number that has not decreased in recent years. A 2009 review of studies indicates that full financial reimbursement of smoking cessation medications significantly improves one-year abstinence rates among all smokers. And those who quit live, on average, an additional four years. Fully funding these tools in Canada could result in a gain of 1.9 million life-years, at a cost of $220 for every life-year gained, which is a bargain compared with other health interventions.
Currently, only Quebec publicly funds all smoking cessation pharmacotherapies, and only the Yukon and Prince Edward Island reimburse for at least one product. In Australia and the United Kingdom reimbursement is available without restriction for all products, including prescription medications and over-the-counter nicotine replacement. In the United States, these products are reimbursed by Veterans Affairs and Part D Medicare.