82% think nicotine causes cancer!
Smokers don’t understand nicotine and its role in nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
Getting the facts right about NRT – exploding the myths
A recent survey has revealed the worrying lack of knowledge about nicotine and smoking. 82% of people think nicotine causes cancer1A and a third believe NRT is unsafe because it contains nicotine.1B Even the professionals seem unclear as (45%) of GPs questioned believe that nicotine causes cancer.2A Smokers who want to give up may be missing out on one of the most effective ways to stop because of the myths surrounding nicotine. Negative associations such as ‘nicotine stained teeth’ are the prime example of these misperceptions, when in fact it is the tar in cigarettes and not the nicotine that stains.
Commenting on the research, Professor Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology, Cancer Research UK said, “The confusion surrounding nicotine, shown by these survey results, present a barrier to NRT which can double a smoker’s chances of quitting successfully. It is essential that people are provided with the facts and that healthcare professionals are accurate with the language of nicotine and smoking”.
The ‘Exploding the Myths about Nicotine Factsheet’ is designed to ensure smokers have the real facts about nicotine and build their confidence in NRT use by exploding the myths. Some of the myths dispelled in the factsheet are:
Nicotine causes cancer
Nicotine causes the diseases related to smoking
NRT substitutes one addiction for another
NRT results in weight gain
Smokers may be deterred from using NRT, making it even harder for them to give up with just willpower alone and limiting their routes to a new smoke-free life. NRT is the most widely used clinically proven therapy for giving up smoking and doubles the chances of successfully stopping compared to willpower alone3A. It is vital then that smokers understand that NRT can provide a safe delivery of nicotine.
As the number one selling NRT brand in the UK,4A with the widest range of NRT products including Nicorette Freshmint Gum, Nicorette can provide a vital pathway to quitting. It’s time smokers got the facts with the ‘Exploding the Myths Factsheet’ and the help they need in stopping smoking.
*Contains nicotine. Requires willpower. Always read the label.
- Ends -
For further information please contact: Diana Bourne, firstname.lastname@example.org /Tel 0207 108 6029
or Lucy Day, email@example.com/Tel 0207 108 6080
1. TNS, Nicotine PhoneBus Weekend 20 (2005) QX459 – Nicotine - Fieldwork 20-22 May 2005
2. TNS Healthcare, Internet Week 21 (2005) – Nicotine - Fieldwork 26-30 May 2005
3. Fowler G. Smoking: time to confront a major health issue. Update Supplement May 2000.
4. IRI (OTC) MAT & YTD Figures – Value. W.E 19.02.05
SEE BELOW FOR FACTSHEET
xploding the Myths about Nicotine
Myth: Nicotine is carcinogenic
Fact: Nicotine is not proven to cause cancer1A. There are more than 4,000 other chemicals in cigarette smoke, many of which are known to cause cancer2A. In particular it is the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines that are the probable causative agents for lung and other cancers2B. The risks associated with NRT to aid stop smoking are significantly outweighed by the risks of smoking3A.
Myth: Nicotine causes the diseases related to smoking
Fact: Cigarettes are a well-known cause of cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and other disorders2C. It is the myriad of toxins in cigarette smoke, rather than the nicotine content, that is responsible for the majority of the harmful effects2D. In other words, it is the delivery system, not the addictive drug, which is responsible for the vast majority of tobacco-related diseases2E.
Myth: Nicotine is responsible for adverse health effects related to smoking
Fact: The main adverse effect of nicotine in tobacco products is addiction, which sustains tobacco use3B. Because most smokers are nicotine-dependent, they continue to expose themselves to toxins from cigarettes. It is the other chemicals in cigarettes, not nicotine, which are responsible for most of the adverse health effects related to smoking3C.
Myth: Nicotine causes yellow stains on fingers and teeth
Fact: It is not the nicotine in cigarettes, but the tar that causes the unsightly yellow-brown stains on fingers and teeth4A.
Myth: NRT is more harmful than smoking because of nicotine’s addictive nature
Fact: Nicotine is an addictive drug. When smoked, it is delivered into the lungs and is rapidly absorbed by the blood, reaching the brain within approximately 10 seconds5A. At this point, smokers experience a nicotine ‘hit’ – causing the brain to produce dopamines5B, a neurotransmitter that regulates emotion and feelings of pleasure6A. The brain soon comes to expect regular doses of nicotine and suffers withdrawal symptoms when the supply is interrupted. The addictive nature of nicotine is largely due to its dose and rapid delivery to the brain when smoking cigarettes. Compared to cigarette smoking, NRT provides lower doses of nicotine, which are delivered more slowly, in a controlled way, and over a shorter period of time with the dose being stepped down.
Myth: NRT is no safer than smoking
Fact: The benefit of NRT used to help give up cigarettes far outweighs the risks of smoking3D. The nicotine that is in NRT is manufactured through regulated pharmaceutical methods, as opposed to that in cigarettes, which is unregulated. Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 other chemicals2F compared to NRT, and it is these, rather than the nicotine content, that is responsible for the majority of the harmful effects2G.
Myth: NRT substitutes one addiction for another
Fact: The addiction risk of nicotine in medications has proved to be very low compared to the risk posed by tobacco products2H. NRT has low abuse liability compared to tobacco products3E. The likelihood of abuse (i.e. use for reasons other than smoking cessation) and of dependence with currently available nicotine medications is very low3F.
Myth: NRT results in weight gain
Fact: Cigarettes contain nicotine, which acts as a stimulant. Most smokers put on weight when they stop smoking7A. NRT works by releasing nicotine (at a lower level than cigarettes) and can help control weight gain during a stop smoking attempt8A.
Myth: Nicotine is a man made substance
Fact: Nicotine is a naturally occurring substance derived from the tobacco (Nicotiana) plant. Most nicotine comes from Nicotiana tobacum, but there are 66 other species of plants that also contain the substance9A. It belongs to a group of chemical compounds called alkaloids10A.
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