Calgary·Q&A

Retiring Cochrane pharmacist writes one final prescription: Put down that cigarette

Cochrane pharmacist Kelly Kimmett wants to get every smoker in Cochrane to quit — for at least one day.

His pamphlet promised town would be smoke-free by 2020. Time is running short.

Kelly Kimmett, a pharmacist in Cochrane, Alta., is trying to get Cochrane smokers to quit this Saturday. (Courtesy Kelly Kimmett)

Kelly Kimmett is retiring this month after 30 years as a pharmacist in Cochrane, Alta. But before he hangs up the prescription pad, he has one last wish for the community: he wants everyone in Cochrane to quit smoking — for at least one day.

On Saturday, Kimmett is hosting a smoking cessation clinic. He spoke Thursday to David Gray on the Calgary Eyeopener.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: What is your request of the good people of Cochrane?

A. A few years ago, I took a smoking cessation course. 

I did a pamphlet, and on the front of the pamphlet I said that we were hoping to make Cochrane smoke-free by 2020.

And so here we are in 2019 and I don't have much time left to achieve that. I thought we'd do something big on Saturday and I'm trying to get everybody to quit for one day — hopefully forever.

Q: Everybody — for one day? Where do people smoke in Cochrane? 

A. I guess where you would see it most is outside of public buildings. There's a certain set back that is allowed in Cochrane bylaws [that's] not as strong as it could be. That's where I see people, outside of restaurants, outside of the area —  that sort of place.

Q: Does it bug you when you see people lighting up? 

A. It does because my dad died from lung cancer and he was a smoker. He had quit for many, many years, but it still got him in the end.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of cancer. (CBC)

Q: Both your parents are smokers?

A. Yes.

Q: Anyone who had parents who were smokers knows that it was everywhere in the 1970s, remembering long car trips with somebody smoking away in the front.

A. Exactly. With the window rolled down at 40 below, trying to get fresh air, and the kids in the back.

Q: That was a different generation for some. For others, it's still their reality. Is it easier now for people to quit smoking than it was, say, four decades ago?

A. Oh, definitely. There's so much more information available, there's so many more treatments available, and back then, it was just considered normal to smoke.

Q: How are you getting the word out? 

A. We've been advertising in the local paper, we've been all over social media, we've got signs all over the streets in town. Town council has proclaimed Saturday as Cochrane Quits Smoking Day, and radio programs like yours are helping promote also. So it's up to the smokers to come through.

Our cessation clinic is going to be at the Lions Event Centre, and we're even offering a trip anywhere in North America for one person who attends the clinic.

Q: Do they have to be a smoker to win the trip?

A. No. They can be a supporter of a smoker, too. If they bring someone in with them, they're eligible also.

Also, we give a bonus entry to anyone who turns in full packages of tobacco. So if you want to bring in a carton, I think that would be eight more entries in the draw.

Q: You know people are quitting smoking. We've seen that. But ever go over to the high school and count how many kids have vapes and are using those?

A. I'm very concerned about that. You know, the tobacco companies, they know how to to adjust to situations, so vaping is cool. Smoking is not anymore. But vaping will definitely lead to smoking again. Nicotine is a very, very addictive substance. And the tobacco companies know what they're doing. They recently bought a huge share of Juul (an electronic cigarette company), so they know that that's the future.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

About the Author

Stephen Hunt

Digital Writer

Stephen Hunt is a digital writer at the CBC in Calgary. Email: stephen.hunt@cbc.ca

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