Nicotine addiction: time for a reappraisal?

Monday 08 November 1999
ASH/ Press releases/

102 CliftonStreet, London EC2A 4HW Tel: (0207) 739 5902 Fax: (0207) 613 0531

Press release
8th November 1999
Embargo: 00.01

Action on Smoking
and Health

Nicotine addiction: time for a reappraisal?

A new report published today highlights the need for a re-appraisal of the management of nicotine addiction and suggests that nicotine could be provided in a safer form than through conventional tobacco products.[1]

Smoking kills 120,000 people a year in the UK. Most of these deaths result from the toxins found in tobacco smoke. Nicotine, itself,while highly addictive, is not a major cause of disease. This is why nicotine can be used safely in products such as nicotine gum and patches to help people stop smoking.

ASH’s Research Manager, Amanda Sandford, said: “This report provides a welcome contribution to the debate about nicotine addiction and tobacco regulation. Cigarette smoking is by far the biggest problem of drug dependence in this country yet resources devoted to dealing with it have been pitifully small. While it is clearly important that help is given to those who want to quit, we should also give more thought to ways of providing a safer form of nicotine delivery for those who are not yet ready or able to stop.”

Sandford added: “We now know that Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)is an effective aid to quitting smoking. However, the possibilities of using NRT or other cleaner forms of nicotine as an alternative to smoking have not yet been explored.”

“Currently smokers are presented with a stark choice: ‘quit or die’.While quitting smoking should remain a desirable goal, immediate health benefits could be gained by encouraging the use of cleaner forms of nicotine. Because so many smokers fail to quit, this idea should be given serious consideration.”[2]

[1] Smoking, nicotine and society. Pharmacia and Upjohn discussion Paper 1.

[2] Overcoming nicotine addiction is very difficult. On average, only2% of smokers succeed in giving up in any one year.


Contact Amanda Sandford (0207) 739 5902

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