Cutting back on smokes helping health of homeless in Comox Valley

A smoking cessation program is popular with those living on the fringes of society in the Comox Valley.

NURSE EILEEN GILLINGHAM

A smoking cessation program administered by Care-A-Van volunteers is proving popular with those living on the fringes of society in the Comox Valley.

In April, the Comox Bay Care Society took over operation of the mobile medical unit initiated in 2009 by the Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society. In July, the non-profit organization launched the quit smoking program for homeless individuals and for those at-risk of homelessness.

The program helps people gain access to a free service offered by the Province.

One man has cut back from three packs to two cigarettes a day over the course of nine weeks. While pleased with his progress, the 61-year-old says those lingering cigarettes in the morning and afternoon “make it tough.” He calls it a “love-hate relationship” when it comes to tobacco.

“My health has gotten a lot better,” said the man who prefers to remain anonymous. He has smoked since the age of six.

“I wouldn’t have been able to walk up those stairs without having a rest,” he added, beckoning to a short flight of stairs leading to St. George’s United Church in Courtenay. “I had pneumonia about five years ago, and ever since then it was really downhill fast.”

He relied on puffers for a time, but since cutting back he has been able to walk without stopping for a rest. He also cycles.

The man has another three weeks to go in the 12-week program — the fourth to be launched by the Care-A-Van, which also provides health care, dental and optometry services.

Nurses, doctors and pharmacists register Care-A-Van users for nicotine replacement therapies such as the patch or the gum. The team also provides counselling on a weekly basis to help clients remain smoke-free. Counselling from a health-care professional is estimated to increase the chances of quitting by 30 per cent.

An estimated 70 per cent of homeless individuals are smokers. Those who quit decrease the risk of cardiovascular and lung diseases. An additional benefit is cost savings.

“If you don’t address smoking, then in the latter years they develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Care-A-Van co-ordinator Helen Boyd said, noting ensuing hospital stays are “extremely costly.”

Low-income individuals who can save $50 a week can invest the money in transportation, housing or food, she added.

“Health-wise it’s a huge impact,” Boyd said, noting energy boosts self-esteem which helps a person to move forward and tackle things such as finding work. “It’s a commitment for them to come every week.”

The mission of the Comox Bay Care Society is to improve access to health care and related services through relationship building with the homeless and those at-risk of homelessness in the Valley.

For more information or to donate visit www.comoxbaycare.org.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Fact sheet:

• Tobacco is the No. 1 risk factor for preventable death and disease in Canada.

• Nearly seven million Canadians smoke.

• An estimated 45,000 Canadians die every year of tobacco-related diseases.

• Smoking-related diseases are estimated to cost Canada $3 billion per year in direct health-care expenses.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tailgate Troubadours perform for Comox Valley shut-ins during pandemic

When playing music with others is your main entertainment and diversion, and… Continue reading

Courtenay volleyball star added to Olds College roster

Gracie Walls of Courtenay has been recruited to play on the women’s… Continue reading

Tofino woman’s plan for medical school nearly derailed by health crisis

Tofino resident/North Island College alumna Nora Morrison is heading to the University… Continue reading

NIC online marine training accessed by mariners across the country

NIC was among the first post-secondary schools to receive approval for digital marine courses

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Beloved Holberg pub and restaurant The Scarlet Ibis is back with previous owner

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

North Island-Powell River MP blasts government, VAC for benefit delays

Some injured service men and women have applied for the Canada Emergency… Continue reading

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

Most Read