Tag Archives: nicotine replacement therapy

Smoking Ban “Saved 75,000 Lives” – People Register for Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Banning  smoking in bars and restaurants has saved the lives of more than 75,000 Kiwis, the Health Ministry says.

Since the introduction of the legislation in December 2004, there are now 150,000 fewer smokers – bringing the total smoking population down to less than 20 per cent.

Ministry national director of tobacco control Ashley Bloomfield said half of the smokers who had quit in the past three-and-a-half years would have died as a result of their smoking.

“Those smokers who die from a smoking-related illness lose of average 15 years of life compared to non-smokers,” said Dr Bloomfield.

But Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson is disputing that where there is smoke there is fire – saying most New Zealanders would look at the statistics and think: “Really?”

Mr Robertson, whose organisation represents the bar industry, said the 75,000 figure had “little credibility” and it was hard to establish such outcomes from “very small surveys”.

He said the industry had worked hard to make the new rules work.

Nicotine Replacement TherapyDr Bloomfield said cigarette consumption had halved in the past 18 years, to around 1000 cigarettes per adult each year, down from a high of around 2000 cigarettes in 1990.The Health Ministry’s focus was now on nicotine replacement therapy products. All medical practitioners now have prescribing rights, including GPs, midwives, dentists and optometrists.

The national budget for subsidising nicotine replacement therapy for the 2007-08 year was $4.5million, an increase from $2.5million the year before.

“Evidence has shown that using nicotine replacement therapy can double a smoker’s chance of quitting long term, regardless of the type of support they are receiving,” Dr Bloomfield said.

Smokers can register for Quit Cards which enable them to obtain an eight-week supply of nicotine patches and/or gum from their local pharmacy for a subsidised cost of between $10 and $20.

The programme will be expanded to include a nicotine lozenge later this year.

Quitline spokesman Robert Brewer said between 32-35,000 people register for nicotine replacement therapy every year.

When the ban on smoking in bars took effect in December 2004, calls to the Quitline doubled.

“December is usually our lightest month because of Christmas,” he said.

Source: By GREER McDONALD – The Dominion Post

It’s a Drag: Is it Time to Quit? – Take the Great American Smokeout Challenge

When you’re a smoker, especially in California, which boasts the second-lowest number of adult smokers in the country next to Utah, very few sweet voices greet you throughout your day.

Most people just want to get away from you.

There’s no smoking indoors in public places or outside in parks or playgrounds.

In some cities, like in Oakland, you can’t smoke in ATM lines or at bus stops. And in Belmont, smokers soon will not be allowed to smoke inside their own apartment or condominium.

So maybe there’s no time like the present to quit.

Stubbing That CiggyAnd if you do try, as thousands of Americans will Nov. 15 during the Great American Smokeout, you will hear one friendly voice on the other end of the line at 1-800-NO-BUTTS (1-800-662-8887), the California Smokers’ Helpline.

If you’re lucky, you might reach Loraine, a former smoker whose mission is to help others quit. She sweetly asks her clients the tough questions, like how many cigarettes they smoke per day and how smoking makes them feel.

She then walks them through the ways in which they can break the habit, either cold turkey or by using nonsmoking aids.

“We want you to be as comfortable as possible when you do this,” she says, as she coaches a client into a nonsmoking plan. At the end of a 30-minute conversation, Loraine sends her client a certificate and promises to call on the quit date. A week or two after the quit date, Loraine will call again.

There is no magic bullet to quit smoking, no miracle cure that will take away cravings or erase smoking behavior, no matter what new drug comes out. “As Yoda would say, the magic bullet resides within you,” says Dr. Steven Schroeder, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

Despite an occasional “Star Wars” quote, Schroeder minces no words when he talks about the grasp the habit has on smokers.

“Nicotine is more addictive than heroin or crack cocaine,” he says. The good news is, the number of smokers in the United States is decreasing. For the first time, there are more former smokers than current smokers out there. Just 12 percent of California adults smoke, compared to about 20 percent of the American population as a whole.

Schroeder has been working with smokers for about 15 years and writes papers on the subject of quitting. He says first, smokers need to want to quit. They then need to find the right time to do it and set a quit date. Next, smokers need to bolster the reasons why they want to quit and figure out the temptation triggers and try to erase them.

Then, he says, smokers should decide which cessation aids are right for them.

There are a variety of such products on the market, from over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) aids such as nicotine gum and the nicotine skin patch to prescription NRTs and non-nicotine prescription medications such as bupropion and the newer medication, Chantix. (which comes with some pretty severe side effects.)

The bad news is, none of these aids is 100 percent effective. In fact, none is 50 percent effective. Drug company Pfizer’s own studies on Chantix say it’s 44 percent successful, the highest of all. “We think it is the best drug so far,” says Dr. Kolawole Okuyemi of the University of Minnesota Medical School, who wrote a paper on the subject titled “Interventions to Facilitate Smoking Cessation” and studies multi-ethnic populations and their smoking habits.

Other drugs, including nicotine gum and the patch, have success rates of about 20 percent. About 2.5 to 5 percent of smokers are successful at quitting without any aids.

Drugs act differently on people of different races, depending on the type of cigarette used, such as mentholated versus non-mentholated, Okuyemi says, so it is not easy to predict what will work on whom.

It takes a combination of products and counseling to really help people quit, says Dr. Jodi Prochaska, clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

While alternative therapies are sometimes touted as a cure to help people quit, Prochaska says there is no good evidence that acupuncture helps smokers quit. There is some evidence that stop smoking hypnosis can be helpful.

Kaiser Permanente of Northern California’s patients smoke at a rate of about 9 percent, compared to 12 percent of the general California population. This is due, in part, to the nonprofit health care provider’s proactive stance, says Jeanne Reisman, chief of health education for Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center and anti-tobacco champion.

Kaiser physicians identify smokers during visits and encourage them to quit. The company offers smoking cessation classes to its patients and offers discounts on stop-smoking aids. “There are a lot of messages that smokers receive about being asked whether they smoke and about being advised to quit,” Reisman says.

Say you’ve tried to quit smoking before, and it just hasn’t stuck. Reisman and other experts we interviewed say most people fail the first time, but the likelihood of being successful gets higher after several tries.

Quitting smoking, they say, is the best single thing anyone can do for his or her health. Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems, and can harm others who are exposed to the smoke.

The first step is up to you.

Reach Laura Casey at 925-952-2697 or lcasey@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Source: Laura Casey, Contra Costa Times

Act Now on Cigarettes, Expert Says

An Australian adviser to the World Health Organisation has warned the ingredients of strawberry jam face tougher regulation than the deadly contents of cigarettes and has urged the Federal Government to act immediately.

A leading international expert on the health impacts of tobacco smoke, Dr Nigel Gray said he was disgusted that carcinogens in cigarettes remained unregulated, despite killing about 15,000 Australians each year.

“Controls apply to almost every marketed product from the amount of rat droppings permitted in wheat, to the amount of fat allowed in sausages and even the amount of mint allowed in nicotine replacement therapy,” Dr Gray said in an editorial published in the Medical Journal of Australia yesterday.

“It seems astonishing that the federal minister for drug and alcohol policy recently rejected claims that a new tobacco product (a ‘heatbar’, which heats but does not burn tobacco) should be subject to regulation and said there were no plans to even investigate the product.”

In June, The Age revealed that tobacco giant Philip Morris had secret plans to launch Australia’s first hand-held electronic smoking device. Dr Gray worked on a recent report by the WHO, which provided an international blueprint to regulate cigarette smoke and recommended the introduction of controls on two of the most dangerous carcinogens.

“The report found these compounds (nitrosamines) can be substantially removed from the cigarette because they occur during the process of curing tobacco,” Dr Gray said.

The US Government is considering the WHO recommendations and has a bill before Congress that would empower its Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarette emissions.

kangeroo.GIFDr Gray said Australia should do the same.

But federal Minister for the Ageing Christopher Pyne said the Federal Government had banned all tobacco advertising and spent millions of dollars on education.

“For the Government to regulate the contents of cigarettes or to regulate products like the heatbar would undermine the message that all cigarettes are harmful and that quitting is the only option to avoid smoking-related illnesses. This is the approach we will continue to take,” Mr Pyne said.

Cancer Council spokeswoman Anita Tang said a failure to act was an implicit endorsement of cigarettes.

Philip Morris also supported the push for the contents of cigarettes to be regulated, despite opposition from other manufacturers.

Last night, Philip Morris spokeswoman Nerida White said: “We agree that the Australian Government should set in train a process of tobacco regulation, as is being discussed in the bill in the US Congress.”

Ms White said all cigarette manufacturers should be required to disclose the contents of their products.

Source: Cameron Houston, The Age (Australia)

Click to learn more about > carcinogens.

MayoClinic.com Provides Tips for Coping With Nicotine Cravings

Tobacco users are accustomed to having certain levels of nicotine in their bodies. Because of its addictive qualities, when a person quits using tobacco, nicotine cravings are likely.

A new feature on MayoClinic.com provides users with 20 ways to bust nicotine cravings.

Sample tips — which can help users overcome the urge to smoke and ultimately quit smoking for good — include:

  • Move. Do deep knee bends, run in place or climb the stairs. A few minutes of brisk activity may stop a nicotine craving.
  • Replace. Try a stop-smoking product instead of a cigarette. Some types of nicotine replacement therapy — including patches, gum and lozenges — are available over-the-counter. Nicotine nasal spray and the nicotine inhaler are available by prescription.
  • Call for reinforcements. Team up with a partner who doesn’t smoke for a quick chat or brisk walk.
  • Drink up. Sip a glass of ice water slowly. When the water is gone, suck on the ice cubes.
  • Clean the closet. Discard any clothes yellowed by cigarette smoke or damaged with cigarette burns.

In addition to tips for fighting cravings, the Quit Smoking Center on MayoClinic.com offers helpful information about stop-smoking products and techniques, and how to develop a plan for quitting.

About MayoClinic.com

Launched in 1995 and now visited by more than 10 million users a month, this award-winning Web site offers health information, self-improvement and disease management tools to empower people to manage their health.

Produced by a team of Web professionals and medical experts, MayoClinic.com gives users access to the experience and knowledge of the more than 2,000 physicians and scientists of Mayo Clinic.

MayoClinic.com offers intuitive, easy-to-use tools such as “Symptom Checker” and “First-Aid Guide” for fast answers about health conditions ranging from common to complex; as well as more in-depth sections on more than 25 common diseases and conditions, healthy living articles, videos, animations and features such as “Ask a Specialist” and “Drug Watch.”

Users can sign up for a free weekly e-newsletter called “Housecall” which provides the latest health information from Mayo Clinic. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.com.

nicoti.pngTo obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to www.mayoclinic.org/news. MayoClinic.com is available as a resource for your health stories.

Rochester, MN (PRWEB) October 31, 2007 —

Download this press release as an Adobe PDF document.

Tobacco Harm Reduction Catches On

Yesterday I mentioned the controversy over legislation that would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, authority the FDA itself (or at least its current head) does not want.

One reason for the agency’s leeriness is the possibility that FDA regulation could actually increase the harm associated with tobacco use.

One way that could happen, as I’ve noted before, is through censorship of truthful comparative risk claims – in particular, efforts to promote smokeless tobacco as a harm-reducing alternative to cigarettes.

Last week there were a couple of positive developments in this area. Britain’s Royal College of Physicians endorsed the concept of tobacco harm reduction, saying snus (Swedish-style oral snuff) and other nicotine-delivering products should be available to smokers who want to cut their risks but are not prepared to give up their drug habit.

In a commentary published by The Lancet (which has long supported “less harmful nicotine delivery systems”), two doctors who worked on the RCP report, John Britton and Richard Edwards, note that the health risks associated with snus are roughly 90 percent lower than the health risks associated with cigarettes.

They question the E.U.’s ban on smokeless tobacco (which does not apply in Sweden) and the policy of treating nicotine replacement products as quitting aids instead of long-term replacements for cigarettes:

snus.jpgWe believe that the absence of effective harm reduction options for smokers is perverse, unjust, and acts against the rights and best interests of smokers and the public health.

Addicted smokers have a right to choose from a range of safer nicotine products, as well as accurate and unbiased information to guide that choice.

Britton told The Independent:

Smokers smoke because they are addicted to nicotine, but it isn’t nicotine in cigarette smoke that kills….We need to liberalise the medicinal market and introduce a decent cigarette substitute. We may end up with millions of people addicted to nicotine inhalers, but so what? Millions are addicted to caffeine.

Although there is more to the cigarette habit than nicotine (one reason the success rates for “nicotine replacement therapies” are so low), smokers certainly should be free to switch to other, less dangerous sources of nicotine if that’s what they want.

The distinction that Britton draws between addiction and the harm associated with it is a vitally important one that discussions of drug policy tend to overlook. There is no rational reason we need to pretend that nicotine gum, patches, and inhalers are medicines that treat the disease of nicotine addiction, as opposed to safer ways of getting the same drug.

Another encouraging sign regarding snus: Last week The New York Times ran a story about snus products in the U.S. that clearly reported the truth: Although not 100 percent risk-free, snus is indisputably less dangerous than cigarettes.

The Times quoted Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society, who questioned the evidence that “smokers are able to switch to smokeless tobacco and remain switched.” But even Glynn conceded that “if every smoker in the United States were to switch to smokeless tobacco, ‘in the next decade we would see fewer cancers and less heart disease.'”

That acknowledgment is significant, since American anti-smoking groups (like American public health agencies) generally have been hostile toward harm reduction via smokeless tobacco, muddying or denying the product’s clear health advantages. By contrast, Britain’s Action on Smoking and Health has supported tobacco harm reduction for years.

Why was last week’s story more scientifically accurate that the usual Times take on smokeless tobacco? Probably because it ran in the business section instead of the health section.

Source: Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine

[Thanks to Brad Rodu and Bill Piper for the tip about the RCP report.]

Ready for the Smoking Ban? (UK)

Soon there will be no hiding place for smokers with a smoking ban in public places in England in force from 1 July.

However, despite the majority of smokers saying they would like to quit, many of them are still unsure what the ban will entail. We look at the impact the ban will have and find out the best ways of quitting.

Smokers, now so often forced to huddle outside offices and homes, will find even less places where their habit’s welcome from July 1.

That’s when the English public smoking ban comes into effect, banning smokers from having a drag in pubs, cafes, clubs and restaurants and a host of other places that will become smoke-free zones.

The ban already exists in Scotland and Wales and making it UK wide is predicted, by the Department of Health, to provoke up to 600,000 people to attempt quitting for good. There are many ways of quitting a habit that’s getting harder and harder to enjoy.

Millions more would like to join them – at least 70% of the UK’s 12 million smokers would like to kick the habit – but are daunted by the difficulty of kicking the weed.

Click for > Methods for quitting

Smokers need support to succeed according to Jennifer Percival, head of the Royal College of Nursing Tobacco Education project and author of You Can Stop Smoking, a self-help guide to overcoming the habit. She says: “Smoking is extremely difficult to give up and people shouldn’t feel bad about themselves or failures if they struggle with it.

Smoking Ban Cartoon“Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, and so the cycle of addiction can be difficult to break. Most people try five or six times to quit before they succeed.”

From MSN Money: how the ban won’t kill the pub trade

Percival points out that those using nicotine replacement therapy products – such as patches, gum, or inhalators which mimic cigarettes – and getting support, are four times more likely to quit than those simply going cold turkey.

She says: “Nicotine replacement therapy is no magic cure but combined with willpower and support maybe from a group or even a sympathetic friend it can significantly help you overcome your desire to smoke.”

Nicotine and withdrawal symptoms

Percival also counters the two major reasons people give for smoking – that it aids concentration and helps reduce stress. “The reality is that smokers experience higher levels of stress than non-smokers. After stopping, the level of stress in ex-smokers drops noticeably.

“And although many people believe smoking helps them clear their thoughts and concentrate, research shows that nicotine does not enhance a smoker’s performance level above that of a non-smoker’s.”

Medicines to help you quit

Reasons to Quit Smoking

  • According to the British Heart Foundation, one in five people will die from smoking and annually there are 114,000 deaths of smokers in the UK.
  • Over the past 50 years smoking has killed 6.3 million Britons – the equivalent of the population of London.
  • Most risks from smoking come with the first few cigarettes of the day. Just one cigarette triples the risk of lung cancer, while a five-a-day habit increases a woman’s risk of dying of lung cancer fivefold.
  • It’s worth quitting. Within 10 to 15 years of giving up smoking, an ex-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer is only slightly greater than that of a non-smoker, according to statistics from ASH.
  • If you ditch a 20-a-day habit you’ll now find an extra £35.50 in your wallet every week, which adds up to £152 a month or £1,825 a year.

What you gain when you quit

What type of smoker are you?

  • Light smokers have fewer than 10 cigarettes a day, or only smoke in certain situations – while socializing or when stressed.
  • Heavy Smokers light up more than 15 to 20 times a day and see smoking as an integral part of life.

Test: are you addicted to nicotine?

What Can I Do?

  • Check out the condition of your lungs, it could boost your desire to stop!
  • Take a free ‘smokelyser’ test at Boots to measure the level of carbon monoxide in your lungs. Carbon monoxide thickens and clots blood, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Test three months after quitting to see the difference.
  • Boots also offers, from June 20, a free lung age test, measuring the ‘real’ age of lungs.
  • Set a quit date and prepare for it by getting guidance on how to give up. Visit your GP, or visit the NHS website: http://www.nhs.uk/smokefree. Seek advice from helplines such as NHS Stop Smoking Service: 0800 169 0169 or the Quitline: 0800 00 22 00.
  • Boots, alongside charity Quit, offers a personalised quitting plan, with the charity’s stop smoking counsellors giving further support.

The phases of quitting

What Can Help?

Nicotine patches as a once-a-day solution are most suitable for smokers who have a regular pattern of smoking. They release a steady dose of nicotine into the bloodstream via the skin. They come in three strengths to allow users to reduce the dose when they’re ready. “In general, people who smoke 10 cigarettes or more a day should start with the highest dose patch,” Percival says. A week’s supply costs around £15, but they may be available on prescription.
Nicotine nasal spray is the strongest form of NRT available. “It’s especially suitable for heavy and highly addicted smokers as it is absorbed faster than any other NRT”, Percival explains. It’s recommended for those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day or light up within 30 minutes of waking. It costs around £21 for one spray.

The social and psychological influences

Nicotine gum “lets you control your nicotine dose yourself”, Percival says. It comes in two strengths,the 2mg gum for those who smoke 20 cigarettes or fewer a day, and 4mg for those who smoke more than 20 a day. Most people use 10-15 pieces of gum daily for at least the first 12 weeks. A pack of 24 costs around £4.

A new therapy, IQS (I Quit Smoking) from America, has just launched in the UK, and involves having electrical stimulation applied to the earlobe. It’s claimed this releases endorphins that help reduce nicotine cravings.

Top tips for quitting

It’s aimed at those who smoke over 15 cigarettes a day, and have smoked for over eight years. It costs £399 and includes four treatment sessions, and six months helpline/follow up support at five London clinics, with another opening shortly in Birmingham. IQS also offers a money back guarantee if the treatment fails to work over six months. For more information call 0800 107 5877 or visit www.iqs.uk.com

Nicotine microtab is a small white tablet that dissolves allowing the mouth to absorb the nicotine. It should be taken for 12 weeks. It’s around £16 for a pack of 100 tablets.

How to keep your weight down when you quit

Nicotine inhalators are plastic devices shaped like a cigarette with a nicotine cartridge fitted into it. “It’s held like a cigarette so it’s suitable for people who miss the habit of holding and handling a cigarette,” Percival says. It’s around £6 for a starter pack.

How to Avoid Temptation

  • Keep busy, go for a walk or start a new project.
  • Change your routine, and avoid shops where you usually bought cigarettes.
  • Research shows that you are four times more likely to quit if you let people around you know and gain their support.
  • Wear a commitment ring, which costs £1 from Boots and proceeds go to the Quit charity.
  • When your desire for a cigarette is intense, clean your teeth or wash your hands to reinforce how pleasant it is not to smell of smoke.
  • If you miss having something in your mouth, try a toothpick, carrot and celery sticks.
  • Never allow yourself to think that ‘one won’t hurt’ – it will. It’s the slippery slope.

You Can Stop Smoking, by Jennifer Percival, is published by Virgin Books, priced £10. Out now.

By Gabrielle Fagan