ANI Photo | Nicotine Replacement Therapy, a crucial tool to fight against smoking: Experts

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) offers a 50 per cent higher probability of quitting smoking compared to attempting to quit without it, and it is both safe and readily available without the need for a prescription, experts said.
According to Dr. Chandrakant S Pandav, former Head of the Department of Community Medicine at AIIMS, New Delhi, “Tobacco use afflicts 28.6 per cent of adults in the country, with a particularly significant impact on 42 per cent of men and 14.2 per cent of women. Challenges continue to exist in challenging geographic locations and rural areas, highlighting the importance of making NRT accessible over the counter (OTC).”
Dr Pandav believes that easier access to NRT without prescriptions empowers individuals to quit smoking.
The Union Health Ministry has also proposed to place nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) under Schedule so that in future they would be available only on the prescription of authorised medical practitioners and not as over-the-counter (OTC) preparation. Nicotine polacrilex gums, lozenges and transdermal patches are used for NRT.
Nicotine, the primary addictive component in cigarettes, delivers rapid pleasurable effects through smoking. NRT, on the other hand, serves as a temporary replacement for a small quantity of nicotine, controlling cravings, alleviating withdrawal symptoms and facilitating the transition to tobacco abstinence. Unlike cigarettes, NRT provides a gradual and very small increase in blood nicotine levels, which discourages misuse. The aim of NRT is to enable people to quit smoking with the help of nicotine delivery systems with reduced addictiveness.
Dr Sajeela Maini, Head, Tobacco Cessation, De-addiction, Mental Health Expert, Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi, said, “In my years of practice in smoking cessation, I have found that Nicotine Replacement Therapy is the mainstay of Smoking Cessation Therapy. Substituting cigarettes with a nicotine product works the best. It is most effective in reducing the urges, and withdrawals of quitting the stick. Tobacco dependence is a mind-body addiction. We need to address both the physiology and psychology of addiction in proper perspective, to be effective.”
Dr. Pandav also points to Indian trials conducted in 2023, such as the one in Odisha, which demonstrated the efficacy of NRT in halting smokeless tobacco use–a specific issue in India.
Another study in Bengaluru in the same year highlighted the effectiveness of combining NRT with behavioural counselling in reducing cigarette smoking

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