Nicotine wars

Dr. Wes, a physician and blogger, offers his take on recent concerns over slowed progress on smoking cessation and low utilization of nicotine replacement therapy. He offers some pretty provocative opinions that are worth taking the time to read.

It still puzzles me that we use an incredibly addictive drug, nicotine, to help smokers quit their habit. It’s like we’ve given up and decided that Nicorette gum is to the smoking addiction as methadone is to a heroin addiction. To make matters worse, it now seems that the pharmaceutical industry, in its press to promote its products, wants to limit the verbage on the warning label on the smoking cessation drugs.

Over-regulation as the cause for lack of utilization? How about the methadone/heroin analogy? Maybe the reason people aren’t using these meds is because they’re expensive and people don’t like taking drugs – especially one that is powerfully addictive. And there are even researchers who question the efficacy of these drugs to stop the smoking habit in the first place.

The reality? We have been incredibly successful in the US at educating our population about the effects of smoking and reducing the number of individuals who smoke. Smoking bans have also been remarkably effective. Why make us smoke this lame excuse for “limited gains” of achieving our goals of smoking cessation in the interest of making pharmaceutical companies more money? Maybe, just maybe, the real reason that smoking cessation aides are producing only limited gains (in sales) is because fewer people are smoking.