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Nicotine Tob Res. 2004 Dec;6 Suppl 3:S303-10.

Stop-smoking medications: who uses them, who misuses them, and who is misinformed about them?

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Department of Health Behavior, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA.


This study assessed smokers' beliefs about nicotine and the safety of nicotine medications and examined how these beliefs influence the use of nicotine medications. The data for this paper came from a nationally representative, random-digit-dialed telephone survey of 1,046 adults (18 years of age and older) current cigarette smokers conducted between May and September 2001. Respondents were questioned about their use of stop smoking medications, beliefs about nicotine, and the safety/efficacy of nicotine medications. Nearly all adult smokers in our survey had heard of nicotine patches (97%) or gum (94%), with lower levels of awareness reported for the nicotine inhaler (41%), and nasal spray (9%). Thirty-eight percent of smokers had previously used nicotine medications, with the nicotine patch being the most commonly used medication. The data reveal that most smokers are misinformed about the health risks of nicotine and the safety/efficacy of nicotine medications. Approximately half incorrectly reported that the reduction in nicotine in cigarettes has made cigarettes less dangerous to health and only one-third correctly reported that nicotine patches were less likely to cause a heart attack than smoking cigarettes. Smokers who were more knowledgeable about the health risks of nicotine and the safety and efficacy of nicotine medications were more likely to report past use of nicotine medications. Misperceptions about the health risks of nicotine and the safety/efficacy of nicotine medications may discourage some smokers from considering the use of these medications to help them stop smoking.

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