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Celebrating World No Tobacco Day

According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, “an estimated 186,400 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year” not including non-melanoma skin cancer. 1

Out of these cases, lung cancer will be the biggest killer. Despite endless campaigns to educate Canadians, there are still 4.7 million Canadians who smoke. That’s more than the entire population of BC!

Today, on World No Tobacco Day we would like to tell you the story of Eleanor Roberts, a Member Administrator at Pacific Blue Cross. Just over a year ago, she successfully quit smoking. It's an inspiring story, and one told from the point of a view of an ex-smoker.

Like many long-term smokers, Eleanor started smoking when she was a teenager. Just over a year ago, at the age of 55 years, Eleanor conquered her addiction. Unbelievably, Eleanor didn’t turn to patches, gum or drugs, nor did she start on a compulsive diet of carrots. Eleanor Roberts quit while holding a full pack of cigarettes with the help of a book.

In February 2011, Eleanor saw a poster in her workplace advertising the Allen Carr quit smoking program. She inquired with her workplace’s Health and Wellness committee, and soon after, received the book from the Health and Wellness Program Manager.

Less than a week later, after reading through the book in just a few days, she had overcome the addiction that had controlled her for so long.

It’s not complicated; she just quit.

“I never did find out the trick, at least I can’t explain it, other than saying it reversed everything that I thought about smoking. What captured my interest at the very beginning of the book was that the one thing that stops most smokers from quitting is fear and that is so true. The author was a smoker so it was easy to relate to everything he said. No smoker wants to take advice or listen to someone who has never smoked before.”

One of the things she feared about quitting smoking was the withdrawal period. “The book helps you understand the process of nicotine withdrawal and what it really is. You visualize that withdrawal as power and control that is slowly dying, and you think I’m going to win. You get excited instead of getting upset and giving in. It’s a good sign because it means the method is working.”

As part of its commitment to enabling healthy outcomes, the leadership at Pacific Blue Cross supports people making positive health changes. In 2011, the organization rolled out a quit smoking program. They made the Allen Carr program available free of charge. Employees were able to request a copy of the book (print or audio) or attend a seminar.

Eleanor feels grateful that she came upon the poster and was given the book as she hadn’t heard of it before. Since then, she has passed on the book and raves about it to friends and family.

Pacific Blue Cross brought the Allen Carr program to Pacific Blue Cross as part of a pilot program. Thirty employees and their family members took part in the program. Not all of them quit smoking but a few have quit for good. Following the pilot, Pacific Blue Cross made the program available to all Blue Cross plan members through Blue Advantage, a savings program that allows members to save on health products and services offered by participating providers across Canada.

More information about the Allen Carr program is available at or

1 Globe and Mail. Andre Picard. Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

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