27 November 2008

NRT an "essential" therapy

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) may be included on the "essential drugs" list to address SA’s smoker challenges .

Smoking cessation medications, including nicotine replacement therapy products, were being considered for inclusion on South Africa’s “essential drugs” list, reported Dr Yussuf Saloojee, executive director of the National Council Against Smoking.

“The key is to provide affordable smoking cessation therapy that can be accessed through the primary health care system,” he said.

Saloojee was speaking from the 3rd Conference of Parties (COP3) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control last week in Durban.

Nearly 1000 delegates, from all continents, discussed ways to reduce the use of tobacco world-wide. The conference is being hosted by the national Department of Health on behalf of the World Health Organisation. It is a working session of country parties that have ratified or acceded to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Saloojee said the debate so far had focused on increasing the size of the health warning on cigarettes to 50% of packaging as well as banning all tobacco advertising.

“The next step, probably at the 2010 conference, will be to look at effective smoking cessation therapy that can be offered to smokers through health services,” he said.

Tobacco burdening low and mid-income nations
Ben Carrick, Johnson and Johnson’s associate director of public affairs for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said many low and middle income countries were seeing significant increases in the health and social burdens caused by tobacco use.

“The WHO recommends, irrespective of the country, that a comprehensive package of policy measures be used in combination to tackle the harm caused by tobacco, including offering smokers help to quit,” he said.

NRT "cost effective"
“To increase and improve smoking cessation it is important to not only encourage smokers to quit but to also support their quit attempts through the provision of effective smoking cessation services and treatments, including medicines such as NRT,” Carrick said.

He explained that NRT has been shown to be one of the most cost effective of all healthcare interventions.

Willpower alone is not enough
Linda Gotlieb, Group Product Manager for Nicorette in South Africa, added that a huge amount of work is required to educate and inform South Africans on smoking cessation, Nicotine Replacement Therapy and how this actually works.

“Statistics reveal that willpower alone is not enough to quit, and that through the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) combined with effective support, the quitting process can be manageable and successful.” she said.

- Adapted from a press release issued by FCB Redline on behalf of Nicorette.

- Health24, November 2008


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