Nicotine replacement therapy may help smokers quit by 70pc, cut withdrawal symptoms

New Delhi: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is the new hope for smokers, as it can boost quit rates by 70 per cent while also helping reduce withdrawal symptoms, said experts here on Wednesday, ahead of World No-Tobacco Day. World No-Tobacco Day is observed on May 31 every year and serves as a critical reminder of the ongoing battle against tobacco addiction. Data shows that India is home to 266.8 million adult tobacco users, which includes cigarette, and bidi smokers as well as smokeless tobacco users buying products in loose form. Nicotine is the primary addictive component in cigarettes, which delivers rapid pleasurable effects through smoking. On the other hand, NRT acts as a temporary replacement for a small quantity of nicotine. It helps control cravings, alleviate withdrawal symptoms, and also facilitate the transition to tobacco abstinence. Dr Nikhil Modi, Consultant – Critical Care, Respiratory Medicine & Sleep Disorder, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, told IANS that “nicotine is highly addictive, making quitting difficult. While nearly 70 per cent of smokers want to quit, only 3-5 per cent succeed”. Unlike cigarettes, NRT provides a gradual and very small increase in blood nicotine levels, discouraging misuse. NRT aims to enable people to quit smoking with the help of nicotine delivery systems with reduced addictiveness. “Without adequate cessation services, 160 million more smokers worldwide could die by 2050. Despite having 19 cessation centres in India, we still have the world’s second-largest smoking population. It’s time to move beyond stereotypes and adopt the successful strategies of other nations,” Dr Nikhil said. Tobacco is a risk factor for health and is known to raise the risk of cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and stroke. The widespread use of NRT by the US and some European countries has shown success. The experts called on India to overcome significant challenges in NRT awareness and accessibility to replicate these successes. “NRT, available in various forms like patches, lozenges, inhalers, sprays, and gum, can increase quit rates by 50-70 per cent by alleviating withdrawal symptoms and cravings,” Dr Pawan Gupta, Senior Consultant, Department of Pulmonology, BLK MAX Hospital, New Delhi, told IANS. He said quitting tobacco abruptly can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, insomnia, mood changes, and poor cognition. “This is where non-tobacco substitutes play a crucial role. NRT is effective in reducing the urge to smoke gradually. Safer alternatives such as NRT have seen substantial success in countries such as the UK, Australia, the US, Canada, and France.” “Ensuring the hassle-free availability and accessibility of NRT could greatly assist Indian smokers in quitting,” he added. –IANS rvt/uk

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