With National non-smoking week now underway, the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association is reminding people that their pharmacist can now have an expanded role in helping people quit.

Eligible patients are able to receive free quit-smoking counselling at many pharmacies across the province.

Pharmacists note that while many people are now aware of the long-term health impacts of smoking, but do not realize that smoking can also affect the effectiveness of some medications like blood thinners, insulin and anti-depressants.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took the opportunity to issue a statement encouraging more Canadians to quit.

“Every year smoking adversely impacts the health of millions of Canadians, including those affected by second-hand smoke, heightening their risk of cancer, heart disease, emphysema and a number of other conditions. It also costs our healthcare system, and therefore taxpayers, a substantial amount of money,” Harper said.

“However, through initiatives such as National Non-Smoking Week, stronger labelling and distribution regulations, a Canada-wide toll-free quitline number and information website, and efforts to combat contraband tobacco, our Government is helping to reduce the smoking rate across the country, especially among youth.”

“I encourage all Canadians who smoke to make a resolution to quit the habit both for themselves and for their loved ones.”

Smoking remains Canada’s leading preventable cause of death, with more than 45,000 dying every year from tobacco-related causes.