“Free” Nicotine Patches Don’t Work, But NYC Gives Them Away Anyway

London’s Telegraph reports that nicotine patches given away by health departments are not effective at helping smokers quit, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

But the lack of evidence of efficacy doesn’t concern New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He continues to give them away, at taxpayer expense, as if he were spending his own money.

If governments really want to give away products that can be effective at helping cigarette smokers quit, they should consider free dissolvable tobacco, snus, and e-cigarettes.

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and directs its Risk Analysis Division. He blogs at conservativeblog.org.

4 responses to ““Free” Nicotine Patches Don’t Work, But NYC Gives Them Away Anyway

  1. Eric Baumholer

    I know from personal experience that the patch doesn’t work. I put one on, and still wanted a smoke. So an hour later, I put on a second. That didn’t work. Later, I put on a third, and even with three sticking to my bare arm, I still wanted a smoke. So I had a smoke, with three patches going at the same time.

    That should have been enough to stun a horse. You should see the looks I’ve gotten from telling this to medical professionals who have recommended the patch to me. Sort of a mix of shock and horror, dissolving into ‘is he making this up’, and then a bit of shock and horror again. Maybe my skin is impermeable or something.

    That said, I’ve found nicotine gum to very effective. For plane flights, at least. So I’d put gum on the list of preferable alternatives. Even though that hasn’t made me an ex-smoker, either. I might give e-cigaretttes a try, but a smoker I know says that they’re ‘not satisfying’.

  2. Coach Springer

    I know someone who used the e-cigarette. Moderately effective as a substitute, but not as a quit. It absolutely sends a lot of the anti-smoke freaks up the wall. Their objective is to force you to stop getting satisfaction and they don’t like you doing it right in front of them.

    P.S. I quit with the patch. The difference is giving the patch to people who don’t want to quit in the first place. Wiht that patch, you still have to quit. The patch was there to keep me from killing someone or destroying furniture. I was never able to quit with gum because it was too much like a cigarette subsitute complete with spking levels of nicotine.

    PPS. I will smoke again if I ever check into a nursing home.

    PPPS. Shouldn’t we allow smoking as a long-term healthcare plan? Reduces the length you’ll need it. Related, it probably reduces overall heatlthcare costs in old age since you are correlaed with not hanging around for those really, really expensive years.

  3. Eric Baumholer

    I’m not sure that smoking will work very well to reduce health care costs because of earlier mortality. I sat down with an insurance salesman who offered life insurance. I asked him about how much less I would have to pay if I quit smoking. He said, ‘The actuaries have this all figured out. It will reduce your annual payment by about $1.50.’ We were talking about something around $1,800 per year as I recall.

  4. Eric Baumholer

    P.P.S. About smoking and the nursing home. One effect of nicotine is a boost in short-term memory. For that reason, a doctor at a nursing home decided to try ‘the patch’ on inmates with mild Alzheimers. Turns out, it helped prevent them from becoming lost in the facility.

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