SMOKING: Cessation Devices Spur Smokers to Quit
American smokers are four times more likely to try to quit smoking now than in previous years, largely due to the advent of smoking cessation products such as nicotine gum, patches and other products, according to a CDC report released yesterday. After compiling data from pharmacies and over-the-counter sales of smoking cessation products, the CDC concluded that Americans, 48 million of whom smoke, made over 8 million attempts to quit smoking in 1997 and 1998. The figure is a vast increase from 2 million in 1991 -- the year before the introduction of the nicotine patch. In 1998, the nicotine patch accounted for 49% of drug-assisted attempts to quit, and gum accounted for 28%; but the CDC also noted that attempts to quit smoking increased almost every time a new product was made available. Rod Todd of the American Cancer Society emphasized how the variety of smoking cessation products helps smokers quit. "Smokers are always looking for something that will be helpful, and you never know which product might work the best for a particular smoker," he said. According to Todd, about 70% of smokers want to quit and 35%-45% of them will try to quit in any given year. The CDC wants insurers to cover the cost of smoking cessation products since decreasing treatments costs could potentially increase the number of people who attempt to quit. Although the statistics look promising, the CDC cautioned that the results may be an overestimation since the statistics are based on sales data rather than information from users. For example, the CDC did not track how many quitting attempts failed. Also, it is impossible to determine whether smokers bought a product to quit or to use as a substitute in places where smoking is banned (Pitt, AP/Nando Times, 7/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.