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Pharmacist retires by issuing a big challenge

June 26, 2019
Kelly Kimmett dares Cochrane to go smoke free for a day.

Kelly Kimmett is working on his yard these days, trying to get it healthy again. Kelly has time for this challenge now that he is retired after 42 years as a pharmacist.

“I was sad and happy, but I think it was time, there are lots of great customers and staff, and some of the staff have been with me for 30 years,” said Kelly.

“The main highlight is seeing a whole generation walk through my door in Cochrane, and getting to know that pioneer generation, and then dealing with their children and now their grandchildren,” remembered Kelly. “It was just a tremendous place to own a business.”

He set his retirement date, but then decided he would leave with a big challenge to his community.

“I had taken a smoking cessation course about seven years ago from the University of Waterloo, so we had brought that in as part of our practice. And on a pamphlet, we used to promote that service. It said: ‘Striving to make Cochrane smoke free by 2020,’” explained Kelly.

He challenged smokers in Cochrane to give up cigarettes on the day he retired, Saturday, June 15. The town council even recognized the day as Cochrane Quit Smoking Day. Those interested could sign up in advance or just show up. Thirty people showed interest, and 15 are moving ahead with cessation counselling at Kelly’s former pharmacy.

“I know it’s impossible to be a smoke free town, but when you throw a big concept out there like that, some people will respond to it, and we certainly had a really good response,” said Kelly.

Nonsmokers supported those taking part by giving up sugar or soft drinks. Kelly adds that some smokers are forming groups to have a quitting buddy or team, which he believes will add to the success rate.

He encourages other pharmacists to set themselves apart by taking a smoking cessation course and offering cessation counselling. Kelly points to statistics as proof that the need is there.

“We talk about the opioid crisis, well, it’s one-10th the number of people who die from smoking related illnesses in Canada. Over 45,000 people die every year,” said Kelly. “That’s 35 people in our little town who are going to die from smoking-related illnesses this year and every year. I think that hits home when you break it down that way.”