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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 00:28 GMT 01:28 UK
Mistaken fears over nicotine aids
Cigarette ash
Smokers' concerns centre on nicotine
Many smokers reject anti-smoking therapies because they wrongly believe the nicotine in them means they are as harmful as cigarettes, a study shows.

Two thirds thought they would be harming themselves as much if they used nicotine replacement therapies (NRT).

Data presented to the UK National Smoking Cessation Conference also showed only 14% planned to use patches gum or lozenges to help them quit.

Anti-smoking campaigners said smokers needed better education.

This research suggests that there is a need for more and better consumer information
Amanda Sandford, Action on Smoking and Health

Over two thirds of the 600 smokers interviewed also wrongly believed nicotine caused lung cancer, heart attacks and heart disease.

The survey found that just over a third of smokers who said they believed nicotine was less harmful than cigarettes planned to use NRT the next time they tried to give up.

'Cold turkey'

Dr Alex Bobak, a London GP who presented the research, said: "When you light up, nicotine gives you the hit, but it is the rest of the smoke that does the damage.

"Nicotine is the reason why people crave a cigarette, but it is the other chemicals in each puff that cause cancer and so many other diseases."

He added: "These misconceptions are preventing smokers from choosing one of the most successful ways to quit.

"Instead, many smokers are going cold turkey, which is the hardest and least effective way of kicking the habit."

The survey was carried out for GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures one form of nicotine replacement therapy.

Steve Crone, CEO of Quit, a charity that helps people quit smoking, said: "This data is a matter of serious concern because smokers are denying themselves the best help available."

Amanda Sandford, research manager for the organisation Action on Smoking and Health, said smoking tobacco causes a whole range of diseases such as heart disease, respiratory disorders and cancer, while using NRT as an aid to stopping has none of these risks.

She added: "This research suggests that there is a need for more and better consumer information about nicotine and the safety of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as an aid to stopping smoking.

"Anyone wanting to quit should have access to the facts about the dangers of smoking and the huge benefits of quitting using safe aids such as NRT."

Why smokers struggle to give up
04 Apr 05 |  Health
Smokers 'misjudge health risks'
24 Feb 05 |  Health

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