If you tried to quit smoking before but couldn't kick the habit, there's still hope

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Yukon Liberals' first budget delivers $6.5M surplus, but predicts deficits to come

Yukon Liberals' first budget delivers $6.5M surplus, but predicts deficits to come

A new Memorial University School of Pharmacy program is helping smokers quit by matching them with pharmacists, counsellors and medication to kick the habit.

The program started in February and has already enrolled dozens of smokers, according to its director Dr. Leslie Phillips.

Quitting is not easy, Phillips said, and she expects most people will fail a few times before quitting for good.

But Phillips says she's not discouraged when someone tells her they've tried to quit before and started smoking again.

"If you have quit before even that's music to my ears because really what it's telling me is that you are a quitter. You can quit," she said.

The program Phillips directs includes pharmacy students and psychiatry residents, and she said it's an opportunity for them to learn, while at the same time helping people stop smoking.

Phillips said recent reports show there is a clear need for a program like this in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Statistics Canada took a hard look at 2015 data and found that Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest rate of smokers of all provinces.

It found about one in seven Canadians smoke tobacco, but according to the data for this province, that number is about one in five.

One-stop shop

Of course, the School of Pharmacy program is not the only way to stop smoking, but Phillips said a program run by pharmacists has one big advantage.

"We are a one-stop shop. So we'll do the counselling, but we can also figure out what medication is good for you and give you the prescription and follow up on it afterwards," she said.

There has been a lot of change since the mid-1960s when about half of all Canadians smoked, but Phillips said the smoking rate for people with mental illnesses remains a big challenge.

About half of all the cigarettes sold in North America are consumed by people with mental health issues, she said.

"Not only do they smoke a lot, they tend to smoke more heavily so they have higher levels of nicotine addiction," she said.

"It is a much bigger challenge to try to get them to quit."

Phillips hopes the program will eventually expand to include more students, residents and quitters.