A new year, a healthier you - we can help!
VICTORIA - Thinking of making a New Year's resolution to stop smoking, eat better or be more active? B.C. families now have easy access to a variety of new tools and programs to help them achieve healthier lifestyles.
This is just one more example of significant progress made by government in the last year to improve the lives of British Columbians and their families by creating and protecting jobs, by becoming more open and transparent, and by continuing to be fiscally responsible in these uncertain economic times.
Launched in May 2011, the Province's $68.7-million Healthy Families BC health promotion and prevention strategy is helping British Columbians make the healthier choice the easier choice. The strategy focuses on reducing chronic diseases and obesity levels in the province through increased access to healthy eating and physical activity supports and information. Healthy Families BC has also helped with the implementation of a variety of healthy living initiatives to improve the health of B.C. families and promote wellness in every part of the province.
One program helping to make B.C. families healthier is the Province's Smoking Cessation Program, which launched on Sept. 30, 2011. British Columbians who wish to quit smoking can access the program by calling 8-1-1 and registering with HealthLink BC. Once each calendar year, B.C. residents enrolled with the Medical Services Plan can receive PharmaCare coverage of a single continuous course of treatment of a prescription smoking cessation drug or a free 12-week supply of a Nicotine Replacement Therapy product. Since the program launched, more than 60,000 British Columbians have called for help quitting smoking.
With the New Year approaching, call volumes at 8-1-1 may be unusually high and callers wishing to register for the Smoking Cessation Program may experience increased wait times. HealthLink BC staff will answer all calls as soon as possible and caller patience is appreciated.
Scott McDonald, president and CEO of BC Lung Association -
"Quitting cold turkey can be tough, and quit smoking aids can help people not only quit but also prevent them having a relapse and starting to smoke again. The incredible uptake of the provincial Smoking Cessation Program by smokers will help more people achieve their goal of quitting smoking."
Holly McLennan, previous Healthy Families BC contest winner -
"Winning a year supply of groceries and having the opportunity to work directly with a dietitian has helped me focus more on my diet and how to eat healthier. Learning to eat better has helped me get out and be more active with my family and I'm now working toward other goals like running a half-marathon."
- The Prescription for Health program offers family doctors additional tools to conduct medical assessments and work with at-risk patients to develop a health promotion and illness prevention plan that best suits their medical needs and personal situation. Patients may be referred to free-of-charge telephone-based lifestyle support services to help them achieve their individual lifestyle change goals.
- Since the Prescription for Health program launched in May 2011, family physicians have conducted more than 50,000 risk assessments with their patients.
- In Aug. 2011, the Province launched the Healthy Families BC Walking Challenge, which saw British Columbians walking the streets and trails of their communities, mapping their favourite walks and sharing their personal walking experiences.
- Since the Smoking Cessation Program launched, HealthLink BC has handled more than 60,000 registrations for nicotine replacement therapy products. Almost 37,000 of these orders have been initial orders and approximately 23,000 are refill orders. To date, over 18,000 people have chosen to use a prescription drug through their physician.
- Recognizing that excess sodium intake is linked to elevated blood pressure, the leading preventable risk factor for death in B.C. and worldwide, the Province has embarked on an awareness campaign to highlight risks and to help increase sodium knowledge. The Healthy Families BC Sodium Facts Contest runs through Jan. 15, 2012. Since the contest launched at the end of Nov., more than 2,000 British Columbians have put their sodium knowledge to the test and entered to win great prizes.
- In 2011, the Province expanded access to HealthLink BC's Dietitian Services meaning easier access to registered dietitians who can answer any nutrition or food-related concerns. Telephone access is available by dialling 8-1-1 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday to Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. The service is also accessible by email at: www.healthlinkbc.ca/dietitian
- Healthy Family BC's social media platforms -- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a blog -- have sparked the interest of many social media users, with over 1,100 followers each on Twitter and Facebook and over 14,000 subscribers to the blog.
More Information on the Healthy Families BC strategy, including Prescription for Health, is available at: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca
Want to test your sodium knowledge? Check out the Healthy Families BC Sodium Facts Contest and enter to win at: http://healthyfamiliesbc.ca/healthy-communities-contest.php
Thinking of quitting smoking in the New Year? For more information please visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/stop-smoking/ or www.quitnow.ca
Have general health-related questions? Visit: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)