Smoking is a significant public health concern. The Ontario Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program was launched in September 2011 to leverage community pharmacists and expand access to smoking cessation services for public drug plan beneficiaries.
We examined health care utilization data in Ontario to describe public drug plan beneficiaries receiving, and pharmacies providing, smoking cessation services between September 2011 and September 2013. Patient characteristics were summarized, stratified by drug plan group: seniors (age ≥65 years) or social assistance. Trends over time were examined by plotting the number of services, unique patients and unique pharmacies by month. We then examined use of follow-up services and prescription smoking cessation medications.
We identified 7767 residents receiving pharmacy smoking cessation services: 28% seniors (mean age = 69.9, SD = 4.8; 53% male) and 72% social assistance (mean age = 44.4 years, SD = 11.8; 48% male). Cumulative patient enrollment increased over time with an average of 311 (SD = 61) new patients per month, and one-third ( n = 1253) of pharmacies participated by the end of September 2013. Regions with the highest number of patients were Erie St. Clair ( n = 1328) and Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant ( n = 1312). Sixteen percent of all patients received another pharmacy service (e.g., MedsCheck) on the same day as smoking cessation program enrollment. Among patients with follow-up data, 56% received follow-up smoking cessation services (60% seniors, 55% social assistance) and 74% received a prescription smoking cessation medication. One-year quit status was reported for 12%, with a 29% success rate.
Program enrollment has increased steadily since its launch, yet only a third of pharmacies participated and 56% of patients received follow-up services.