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The Scoop On Smoking from ACSH: what every teen should know about tobacco


nicotine patch (habitrol, nicoderm CQ, nicotrol)

treatment type: drug
availability: over the counter (for 18 and over)
treatment duration: 8-16 weeks
dose: various doses for both 16 hour and 24 hour patches
cost per day: $4.00
for comparison, calculate how much you currently spend on tobacco products per day

Information about Nicotine Replacement Therapy on this website is based on data on adults only. The safety and efficacy of NRT for teens has not been sufficiently evaluated in order for the FDA to approve it for use for those under 18. However, clinical practice guidelines by the U.S. Public Health Service advise that physicians can consider prescribing NRT to those under 18 'when there is evidence of nicotine dependence and a desire to quit tobacco use.'(6) Before receiving a prescription for NRT, a teenager must be carefully evaluated by a doctor in order to determine whether they may benefit from using NRT, and whether the potential benefits of using it outweigh the potential risks.

Regardless of your age, it is always wise to consult a health care provider before beginning a smoking cessation program.

the bottom line

The nicotine patch is a self-adhesive strip that is applied to the skin and releases nicotine into the outer layer of the skin. There are several advantages of the patch, including the fact that it is very easy to use; it comes in various doses, so the user can taper the dose as progress is made; it need only be used once a day to provide a continual stream of nicotine; and it is inconspicuous. One disadvantage to the patch is that it releases nicotine more slowly than other NRTs do and therefore cannot be used to combat sudden nicotine cravings. There are minimal side effects associated with the patch. The main side effect is a localized rash and skin irritation many users develop from the actual patch -- approximately 50% of users experience such a reaction, but less than 5% actually have to stop using the product.(6) Another potential side effect, usually occuring in those using the 24 hour patch, is sleep disturbance.


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