ATODA manages the We CAN Program (Communities Accessing all-types of Nicotine Replacement Therapy) that aims to reduce smoking among people utilising specialist alcohol and other drug (AOD) non-government services by providing subsidised access to all types of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) e.g. patches, gum, lozenges, spray. AOD workers provide a voucher to service users that is redeemable at a partnering community pharmacy for a full course (8 – 12 weeks) of all types of NRT. Service users concurrently receive smoking cessation support through the AOD workers and/or the pharmacies.

The Program enables best practice nicotine dependence treatment to be delivered to this population with extremely high smoking rates—found to be 77% in the 2018 ACT ATOD Service Users Satisfaction and Outcomes Survey (SUSOS). The Program enables nicotine dependence treatment and smoking cessation support to be implemented as part of routine AOD treatment and support within specialist AOD services. The Program:

  • targets a priority population with very high smoking rates—i.e. people who access specialist AOD services;
  • takes a settings-based approach, (i.e. delivering the Program in non-government specialist AOD services);
  • enables delivery of best practice nicotine dependence treatment—full courses of combination NRT, complemented by specialist smoking cessation support
  • is implemented as part of routine AOD treatment and support—thereby increasing smoking cessation, and improving AOD treatment outcomes
  • leverages and enhances specialist AOD services’ treatment and support expertise— including organisational tobacco management policies, and a trained workforce
  • leverages on existing smoking cessation training and resources through ACT community pharmacies
  • leverages ACT Health and the Commonwealth’s existing specialist AOD treatment and support investment

The We CAN Program continues to be delivered in seven specialist AOD NGO services, including all residential services. Operating data from the Program shows a potentially high rate of quit attempts—the majority of participating service users provided with a NRT voucher follow through on redeeming these at the community pharmacies. Many of these service users are accessing sufficient NRT to make a quality quit attempt, particularly as indicated by the amount of NRT purchased and whether they purchased a combination of patches and intermittent forms of NRT. All participating service users also received smoking cessation support from a specialist AOD treatment and support worker and/or a pharmacist or pharmacy worker.

The We CAN Program has demonstrated that people accessing specialist AOD services want to engage in smoking cessation. Best practice care, which includes full courses of subsidised NRT, should be provided as core business. ATODA continues to advocate for further funding to be provided for the community to access subsidised NRT and smoking cessation support.