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Nicotine may help quitters - guidance

Wednesday June 5th, 2013

Nicotine patches and other licensed products are an acceptable way to help wean smokers off tobacco, according to official guidance published today in England.

Advisers should also be ready to tell would-be quitters that some nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes, are not licensed and their safety cannot be guaranteed, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

But, repeating an earlier draft, NICE says patients can be told that e-cigarettes are "likely" to be less harmful than cigarettes.

GP Professor Paul Aveyard, who developed the guidance, said: “Giving up smoking is one of the hardest things a smoker will ever do. Some may not be ready to give up smoking in one step, but half of all smokers say that they want to cut down. Smoking tobacco harms not only the smoker, but also people around them, with children being particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke.

"Advisors should reassure people that licensed nicotine-containing products are a safe and effective way of reducing the harm from cigarettes, and that nicotine replacement therapy products have been shown in trials to be safe for at least five years’ use.

"Whatever approach people wish to try, they should be advised that there are no circumstances when it is safer to smoke than to use licensed nicotine containing products and experts believe that lifetime use of these products will be considerably less harmful than smoking."

English chief medical office Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "Smokers are harmed by the deadly tar and toxins in tobacco smoke, not necessarily the nicotine they're addicted to.

"The best thing smokers can do for their health is quit, but if they're not able or ready to then using safer sources of nicotine instead of smoking is much better."

Martin Dockrell, of Action on Smoking and Health, welcomed the guidance.

He said: "For many years the only advice given to smokers has been to quit completely and for good. Now there is good evidence that smokers who are unable to quit abruptly can take an important step along the way by cutting down or switching to non-tobacco sources of nicotine.

"That can help them quit in the long run, and in the short run help reduce the harm smoking causes them and those around them."


Tags: Drug & Alcohol Abuse | NHS | Respiratory | UK News

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