07/12/2013 06:25 EDT | Updated 09/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Report urges coverage of smoking cessation products

More smokers in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador would stop smoking if they had access to cessation products through their health insurance, according to a new report.

The report, which is part of an annual report card released by the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, suggests that products such as the nicotine patch, gum and inhalers, help people to quit smoking.

The New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador governments do not provide public insurance for smoking cessation products.

Jaime McDonald, the lead author of the report, said that without public or private insurance, some Canadians just can't afford to get the help they need to quit smoking.

"If you live in the Atlantic provinces and you want to quit, the resources aren't there," she says.

"For someone who lives on the west coast, like British Columbia, there is indeed a lower rate of smoking."

The New Brunswick Health Council indicated in its 2012 provincial health snapshot that 21.7 per cent of New Brunswick residents were daily or occasional smokers compared to the national average of 19.9 per cent.

By comparison, British Columbia has the lowest rate of smoking in the country at 14 per cent.

McDonald also says that some provincial governments might not want to pay for insurance to help smokers quit because of their tight budgets.

But her report suggests it is cheaper to help people stop smoking instead of treating smoking-related illnesses later in their lives.

Barbara MacKinnon, the president and chief executive officer of the New Brunswick Lung Association, said that insuring smokers in New Brunswick who want to quit, makes sense.

"It’s been shown that if someone can have medication to help them stop smoking, their success improves three times," MacKinnon says.

"It is money well spent because the health impact of smoking is huge."

While smoking isn't the only cause of lung cancer, it's the greatest cause of the disease, MacKinnon says.

She estimates that out of every 25,000 who people have lung cancer, about 20,000 die.