Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Today, on Ireland’s national “no smoking day”, Ash Wednesday, the Irish Cancer Society has called on the Government to offer Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) free to participants on smoking cessation programmes.
The Society says that NRT alone makes you 50-70% more likely to quit and used in combination with supports based in the community, like the Society’s We Can Quit programme, it can ensure that people stay quit for good.
However, despite wanting to quit, many smokers are unaware of the supports that are available to them to help them quit smoking.
The Kilkenny People previously revealed that smokers with medical cards in Kilkenny and Carlow cost taxpayers more than €1.2 million over the four years to 2016 as they tried to kick the habit with treatments including chewing gum and nicotine patches.
Nicotine Replacement Therapies are available to medical card holders free of charge with a doctor’s prescription.
There were 4,166 prescriptions for 1,474 “unique patients” with medical cards last year for Nicotine Replacement Therapies with 711 prescriptions of Varenicline for 391 people in Kilkenny and Carlow.
The cost of providing the products to medical card holders looking to quit smoking in Kilkenny and Carlow was €256,211 in 2013; €189,451 in 2014; €224,768 in 2015 and €232,547 in 2016.
According to the survey undertaken by Core Research, over 4 in 5 smokers claim they have attempted to quit smoking. Of these, almost 3 in 5 have not used NRT and over half of smokers are aware of cessation supports and NRT.
Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said: “Our survey shows that people are clearly willing to kick the habit of smoking for good, with 4 in 5 smokers attempting to quit. However, many are still unaware of the supports available and unconvinced about their effectiveness.”
According to the survey, the current likelihood among smokers to use NRT to help them quit is relatively low, with only 4 in 10 smokers saying they would use NRT. Some barriers include:
- People wanting to use will power alone to quit smoking
- The belief that that NRT doesn’t work
- The expense of NRT
Mr Buggy said: “These findings suggest there is a need to better educate the public about NRT and its effectiveness. Some smokers feel that NRT is a replacement habit for smoking, however NRT helps reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal from smoking. By using NRT when trying to quit, you dramatically decrease the amount of harmful toxins you take in, while managing the physical need to smoke.”
“Our survey also suggests if NRT was made available to people enrolled in cessation programmes for free they would be more willing to use it. If the Government is serious about achieving its target of a Tobacco-Free Ireland by 2025 they need to offer this additional support to smokers.”
The Irish Cancer Society received strong support among survey participants for its proposals that NRT should be provided to participants in cessation programmes free of charge, with 63% of people surveyed agreeing and a further 59% saying that the state should do more to support smokers to quit.
“While we have made great strides in recent years in reducing the number of smokers through the introduction of the smoking ban, a ban on point of sales advertising and continued increases in excise duty, we have to do a lot more to support people to break the smoking addiction.”