A Vancouver Island doctor wants smokers to butt out tomorrow.

With Jan. 20th being Weedless Wednesday, the highlight of National Non-Smoking Week, Dr. Derek Poteryko is encouraging smokers and vapers to abstain for 24 hours.

“It could end up being the start of something wonderful,” Poteryko said. “It could be argued that now is a better time than ever to take the first step, considering (that) there is evidence that COVID-19 infection is more severe in those who smoke or vape.”

Poteryko, who is the Medical Director of Community Health for Nanaimo, says because helping people to quit smoking “is a great interest of mine, I would also encourage those who smoke to try and become a non-smoker for the day.”

“Try a day, what do you have to lose? You have everything to gain. Your body, your wallet, your family and friends, and even your planet will thank you,” he added. 

Since 1999, over one million Canadians have quit smoking.

However, Poteryko acknowledges that quitting isn’t easy. 

“Many patients I have helped in the hospital’s smoking cessation clinic have told me that quitting smoking was like giving up their ‘best friend,’” he said.

“This is merely the illusion of tobacco addiction distorting reality because what ‘best friend’ would take your hard-earned money and shorten your life? 

On average, a smoker lives 10 years less than a nonsmoker. 

“This ‘best friend’ turns out to be your worst enemy,” Poteryko said. 

He pointed out that there are many ways to quit smoking. 

Quit Now, a free 24-hour smokers’ helpline, is available at 1.877.455.2233 or online here

More information on community resources, including the free Quit Quitting movie, is available at www.qs4g.ca.