Nicotine Replacement Should be Used to Help Smokers Cut Down as Well as Quit: New Guidance
|Media Release: For Immediate Use, Friday 14th October 2005|
|New guidance for health professionals dealing with smokers has been issued by tobacco control charity Action on Smoking and Health today. The guidance suggests that although smokers should always be advised that quitting completely is the healthiest option, they should also be helped to use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) where appropriate if they intend to cut their consumption.
The move follows the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA)’s decision in September 2005 to approve a new indication for two NRT products, nicorette gum and nicorette inhalator. They can now be used by smokers to cut down on their smoking prior to attempting to stop. Pfizer have called this new indication “Cut Down Then Stop” (CDTS) and advertising for it has already begun. Thirteen other countries, including 10 in Europe, have already approved this indication.
ASH supports this indication because the evidence shows that for smokers who are not ready to stop but who use nicotine gum or inhalator to help them reduce their cigarette consumption by at least half, around 4% will in practice stop smoking completely as a result. As about half of smokers are interested in cutting down rather than stopping at any one time, this could significantly increase the numbers of smokers that stop.
The ASH guidance states:
The full ASH guidance is available online as a pdf by clicking here. 
ASH Director Deborah Arnott states
“Although quitting altogether is obviously best for health, smokers who want to cut down first need help, and NRT can and should be used to support them. We consider this an essential measure of harm reduction for smokers, and part of an overall harm reduction strategy which, once we achieve a law to end workplace smoking, must be the next major step forward in combating the health damage done by cigarettes.”
 The document was developed and written by Martin Raw, Ann McNeill, Robert West, Miriam Armstrong and Deborah Arnott for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), London.