NRT: cheap & effective – so make it more readily available

Tuesday 09 June 1998

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press releaseEmbargoed until midday, Tuesday, 9 June 1998 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

NRT – cheap and effective so make it more available

ASH has joined calls for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to be made more widelyavailable for smokers anxious to quit. In a new report1 outtoday (midday, Tuesday 9 June 1998)three ASH Board Members participating in an expert committee argue that the evidence onthe effectiveness of NRT is now so compelling, the present restrictions on itsavailability should be lifted.

ASH emphasised the role of NRT as a cost-effective health intervention. It doublesthe chances of a successful quit and increases the smokers’ chances of quittingsooner. If made more widely available, it would be very good value for money for the NHS.One study showed the typical (median) cost to society of 310 medical interventions wasaround £17,000 for each life year gained but for smoking cessation with NRT (gum) thecost was £2,849, including advice from the GP – about six times as effective2.

ASH Director Clive Bates urged the Government to include substantial measures to helpsmokers stop – including improved access to NRT – in the forthcoming White Paper ontobacco:

“The Government has promised not only to spend more on the NHS, but to spend itbetter. A big investment in NRT would be a clear sign that the new philosophy is takinghold and that the commitment to tackling the misery smoking causes is genuine.”

But ASH warned a scatter-gun approach would not work properly: “it has to betargeted at the poorest groups who need the help the most, and offered within a frameworkof advice and support” said Bates.


Notes to editors:

  1. A Call for a More Effective UK Public Policy on Smoking Cessation and the Use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy will be published at midday on Tuesday, June 10 1998 in the House of Commons. The report, whose authors include ASH Board members Professor Godfrey Fowler, Dr Martin Jarvis and Professor John Moxham, aims to encourage wider use of NRT products. For more information about the report contact Beverley Bailey, Interscience Axiom on 0181 355 6595.

  2. Taken from The Cost Effectiveness of Smoking Cessation Interventions, Centre for Health Economics and the Health Education Authority, 1997. Treating the costs of smoking-related illness costs the NHS an estimated £1,7000 million each year. Smoking causes 120,000 premature deaths a year in the UK.




Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Pauline Doyle, Press Officer (020) 7739 5902 or 0171 249 2363 (hm)

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