NRT on prescription & in more shops: great news for smokers on No Smoking Day

Wednesday 14 March 2001

Immediate: 14th March 2001 ­ No Smoking Day


Great news forsmokers: nicotine replacement therapy on the NHS and in more shops


On No Smoking Day, the government offers great newsfor smokers. Nicotine patches and gum are to be available on the NHS and more widelyavailable. ASH strongly supports andcampaigned for these changes [1]. CliveBates of ASH commented:


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>”When the NHS treatstobacco dependence, it is treating 50 different illnesses caused by smokingbefore they actually happen. That saveshuge amounts of money and human misery in the long run, and is about the bestinvestment of resources the NHS can make.”


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“Using NRT roughly doublesthe chance that a smoker will quit for good. Anything that can tilt the odds of overcoming nicotine addiction infavour of the smoker has to be welcomed.


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“Compared to treating highcholesterol with drugs, spending NHS money on stopping smoking gives seventeentimes the return in terms of cost per year of life saved.<spanstyle=”mso-spacerun: yes”=””>  Although the NHS may spend up to 40 millionpounds on anti-smoking drug, this compares to 250 million on cholesterollowering drugs” [2]


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“This is an important measureto reach low-income smokers, who are more likely to be in contact with theirdoctor, and less able to afford the market price of nicotine products.<spanstyle=”mso-spacerun: yes”=””>  This will really mean that tackling smokingwill move into the NHS mainstream.


ASH pointed out there was no need for doctors to waitif smokers came into the surgery today. Products introduced since 1997 are already prescribable as they havenever been blacklisted. These include Niquitin CQ patch, Nicorette Microtab andInhalator, Nicotinell Lozenge. [3]


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“Now the government has givenits consent in principle, it is a green light to start prescribing those nicotineproducts that are already authorised for prescription.


ASH believes that while it will be possible foraffluent smokers to save money by going to the doctors to get a prescription,this will prove to be a minor problem: Bates added:


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“The well-off smoker doesn’twant the time and hassle of a doctor’s visit just to save a few quid, when theycan easily go to the pharmacy or other shops and choose from a full range ofproducts.


The wider availability of NRT is also a welcomedevelopment:


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“It was always an absurdsituation that you could buy cigarettes from any corner shop, but had to visitthe chemist to get products that would help you quit smoking.<spanstyle=”mso-spacerun: yes”=””>  Now people will be able to buy when andwhere they like ­ even if it is late at night, the chemist is closed and nicotinecravings are hitting hard.


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“Hopefully we’ll see nicotinepatches and gum available on planes and trains, and in other situation whereyou can’t smoke for long periods.


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“The only real opponents tothis were trade associations of the pharmacies, which fear competition fromother retail outlets, and opposed the measure for obvious self-servingcommercial reasons.


ASH took aim at the antics of front-groups for thetobacco industry. This developmentbrings the NHS into further conflict with the tobacco companies ­ something thatis long overdue. Every time the NHShelps someone to quit, someone gains their freedom from nicotine addiction and thetobacco industry loses a customer. ASHis dismayed that FOREST opposes what is so clearly in the interests of the 70percent of smokers that want to quit.


<spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>“Apparently FOREST, the self-styledvoice of the smoker, opposes this move and believes that smokers should not behelped to quit by the NHS. We’re notsurprised ­ every time there is a conflict of interest between the smoker andthe tobacco industry, FOREST seems to side with the tobacco barons.<spanstyle=”mso-spacerun: yes”=””>  I guess that might just be because tobaccocompanies provide over 90 percent of their funds.” [4] said Bates.


[1]See extensive web resources on this subject <ahref=”http:”” html=”” cessation.html”=””>at: including <ahref=”http:”” html=”” cessation=”” nrtgsl.html”=””>ASH response to consultation on wider general salesavailability for NRT and <ahref=”http:”” html=”” cessation=”” nrt_sub.html”=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;text-underline:none’>ASH response to consultationon NRT on prescription


[2] <ahref=”http:”” html=”” cessation=”” primarycare.html#_toc487077397″=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;text-underline:none’>Smoking Cessation in PrimaryCare: how the NHS can spend its money much more effectively.


[3] See <ahref=”http:”” cgi=”” content=”” full=”” 321=”” 7257=”” 379″=””>BMJ 2000;321:379 ( 5 August 2000 )Letter by John Britton.


[4] Evidence to House of Commons Health SelectCommittee. <ahref=”http:”” pa=”” cm199900=”” cmselect=”” cmhealth=”” 27=”” 2707.htm#note27″=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;text-underline:none’>Second Report 1999-2000 TheTobacco industry and the health risks of smoking. June 2000.




Contacts:         <spanstyle=’font-family:arial;mso-ansi-language:en-gb’>Clive Bates: 020 7739 5902(office) 077 6879 1237 (mobile) (ISDNavailable)

<spanstyle=’mso-tab-count:2′>                        Amanda Sandford