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Urgent advice: addiction clinics must also accept smokers

Addiction clinic for smoking addictionIf you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, you can be referred to an addiction clinic. These therapies are covered under the basic insurance. This does not apply to smoking addiction, a problem that causes as many as 20,000 deaths annually in the Netherlands. Why is this treatment not reimbursed, and what are the alternatives?

Why can't smokers go to an addiction clinic?

You can of course go to an addiction clinic to quit smoking, but you have to pay for this therapy yourself. And that sets the bar very high. With an alcohol or drug addiction you can be referred from the basic insurance to an addiction clinic. Still, everyone agrees that cigarettes are highly addictive. Politics also clearly state that cigarettes are designed to make the user addicted as quickly as possible.

Is this going to change?

There is discussion on this topic, which mainly concerns the costs and benefits. What does therapy cost, and what does it yield? Fewer cancer patients, fewer chronic lung diseases for which medicines have to be reimbursed, for example. And of course the chance of success also plays a part in the assessment. Only when someone ends up in an addiction clinic due to another problem is it possible to include smoking as an additional therapy in the treatment.

Is smoking cessation reimbursed?

There are a number of smoking cessation methods that are reimbursed under the basic insurance, including plasters, chewing gum and therapy. But you cannot rely on the basic insurance for more structural help. This also applies to e-cigarettes. Maybe because vaping doesn't help you get rid of nicotine addiction directly. But of course that also applies to other nicotine substitutes. There are many people who switch from smoking to fumes, and even completely get rid of their addiction. The costs are often manageable because e-cigarettes in use are no more expensive than normal smoking. In countries such as England and France, e-cigarettes are more often used as a means to quit smoking.